Memo to Annapolis: Our pockets are not bottomless

Budgets and BudgetingAnnapolis

I just don't know how some of those who write in come to the conclusion that raising taxes indefinitely can be a solution to our ongoing debt woes. Is there no limit?

If Maryland is indeed the richest state of the 50, why does it have a continuing need to keep raising taxes to balance its budget? The present idea among some politicians is to bite the bullet and construct a balanced budget without raising taxes. Boy, did that bring out those who can't conceive of anything like that. Perhaps they don't understand the meaning of the word "budget." In its worst meaning it means to plan on spending no more, to the penny, than what the state takes in. Heaven forbid that the state would wind up with a surplus!

But, you know, that is exactly what has happened in the past. The problem, recently, is that many have no interest in the developing a budget to fit the state's income. To their mind, income is the most flexible part of the budget. There is no limit to the amount that the state can take in given the ability to generate income from its citizens.

What is necessary for those who so easily call for more money is for them to put it on a more personal basis. If you have a job that brings in a certain amount of income, you should sit down each month and check to see how your bank account(s) have fared in comparison to your spending. You can't go to your boss and complain that your income is not enough to keep up with your spending and, therefore, you need a raise. The answer will likely be, "Are we to raise prices in order to support your spending habits?" Not likely. "But, you insist, I'm supporting quite a few people who don't have an income as great as mine." Your boss will likely say, "Well, perhaps you should lower your other expenses or reduce the amount you donate. There aren't any other ways." But, you reply, how about Frank. He makes a ton more than I make. Can't you cut his income and pass it on to me?" Boss: "Frank does a ton more for the firm than you do. We wouldn't be here, and you probably wouldn't have a job, if it wasn't for Frank." Or there might be other scenarios. But the important idea is to live within your means.

Living within your means is something that states did quite well years ago. Lately we've been hammered with the notion that taxpayers should be like Frank above, taking less so that those below them can have more. But that hasn't been fair either. If you look back at when Maryland was operating within its income and compare it to 2010's income, you can determine the percentage of increase. Then compare the population of Maryland in the 1990's and compare it with today's population (of legal citizens). You will certainly find out that today's income increase, in percent, is much greater than the percentage increase in population. If the state could operate comfortably then it should more easily operate in 2012. The state's pockets are not bottomless.

John C. Haupt, Street

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