Countering the claim that approving Question 7 would lead to thousands of jobs in Baltimore City, those who oppose O’Malley’s measure wonder if that’s just another empty promise.
It’s totally appropriate to point out that the general situate was approved in 2008 when Maryland voters originally approved slots. So Harrah’s has had almost four years to put something together in a time period where two other casino facilities were built and one renovated. So why did they wait? Was the deal not made sweet enough by the state; not enough of a cut?
Meanwhile, the governor who called the Special Session so we could spend our fall discussing how many millions would come out of state taxpayer pockets and whether they would come as a result of games of chance or future tax increases continues to “lead” a state which remains in the bottom 10 in terms of business climate. Guess who publicized this statistic? (Three guesses, first two don’t count.) Does the name Larry Hogan ring a bell?
The Change Maryland head noted:
Since 2007, in addition to losing 6,500 small businesses, Maryland has lost 31,000 residents of tax-paying households and 36,000 jobs. It’s no coincidence that our lopsided tax code is causing this weakness in economic performance.
More troubling is that our immediately neighboring states (Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia) rank anywhere from 14th to 27th. When compared to Maryland’s 41st ranking, these other states look like a business paradise. Virginia does it without the benefit of casinos, while the others already have the table games Maryland seeks because they showed more foresight in creating an attractive climate for gamblers. This seems to match their practice in trying to attract and retain private-sector employers.
Unfortunately, the Maryland Constitution doesn’t allow voters to have a say when it comes to fiscal issues because they’re not subject to the same referendum laws other bills passed into law are. Perhaps that’s a good thing since otherwise we may rival California with the number of ballot issues we would face. A further disadvantage, though, is the fact we have the same Democratic control of the state for another two years, without a chance for a mid-term correction like many other states have.
We’re stuck for another two years with a General Assembly similar to the one which shirked its duty back in 2007 by punting the gambling issue to voters yet is only too happy to tax citizens and punish businesses in order to redistribute wealth in both directions: from rich to poor through their fiscal schemes and back from poor to rich via gambling.
In order to get out of the bottom 10 for business climate and bring sanity to the gaming industry, change is truly necessary. The first step is rebuffing Martin O’Malley and slapping down his overly ambitious agenda by defeating Questions 4 through 7.