In an effort to provide open and transparent government, the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly will be hosting a post-legislative public forum on Thursday, May 9, 2013. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in Room 212 of the Career Programs Building on the campus of Hagerstown Community College. The delegation members will give a brief overview of the 2013 legislative session and afterwards, audience members will be able to ask questions. The event is free and open to the public. Should you have any questions, please contact Jake Shade at email@example.com or 240-522-2103.
Personally, I found the most recent legislative session reflected the fact that there are consequences to decisions made in previous sessions. Gov. O’Malley, similar to President Obama, in response to the Great Recession, resorted to Keynesian economics. This concept significantly increases government spending during times of economic downturns in an attempt to stimulate a recovery. This strategy was utilized after the Depression to mixed reviews. The overall budget (spending) for the State of Maryland has grown every year even through very difficult economic times. The problem for Maryland is that while the national economy has not responded, we also face a greater risk with federal cuts. Estimates are that 40 percent to 60 percent of our state’s economy is reliant on government spending, whether direct or indirect. Analysts state that the federal sequester could cost our state as much as $500 million in revenues this year. To provide additional money for spending since the revenues declined, the governor chose to raid dedicated funds, and he raised more than 30 types of taxes. He hoped that he would not have to cut services and that this would stimulate growth in the state’s economy. That has not happened.
Since he raided the Transportation Trust Fund, he had to raise the gas tax. He has borrowed the maximum amount for building and infrastructure projects. Therefore, over the next five years, either property values will need to double or the next governor will have to double the state’s portion of your property tax to pay for the debt. The state will need an additional $500 million annually within five years to cover higher pension costs. Medicaid expenses will increase by more than $900 million over that same time. The federal government is expected to cover the entire increase in Medicaid expense. If the federal government has to cut entitlements at all, our state will be in serious trouble. The consequences of expanding government spending in an effort to stimulate an economy, especially one so dependent on one source (that being the federal government), are very dire. Washington County experienced a similar dilemma when Fairchild and Mack Trucks represented a disproportionate amount of the employment opportunities in the county. Some remember when Fairchild laid off thousands of people in a very short period of time after World War II. The economic impact was devastating to our community. This is the challenge that we face in our state.
In my opinion, Annapolis is not in touch with the rest of the state when it comes to economic realities. While I will try to keep a stiff upper lip, I would only point to similar comments by the state’s own economist Anirban Basu and Congressman Delaney. In a speech earlier this year, Mr. Basu stated, “We have spent an inordinate amount of time over the last several sessions on social issues when there are dire and very significant economic and fiscal issues that should receive the focus of our attention.” On economic matters, Congressman Delaney said, “America’s debt is too high, and the two parties need to find ways to lower it …They need to work together to preserve America’s free market system, and to make sure regulations do what they’re intended to do without overburdening industry.” I applaud these statements and hope that politicians in Annapolis will listen.
We invite you to attend the forum where, in addition to fiscal issues, there will be discussions on the gun bill, gas tax, death penalty repeal, rain tax, medical marijuana and other subjects from the members of the delegation. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you.
Andrew A. Serafini is a Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing Washington County.
Andrew Serafini: Session proves decisions have consequences
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.