The Results Gap

A local delegate who sought to defend the largest tax increase in Maryland history passed during the recently concluded special session made the following statement:

“Maryland is one of the richest sates in the nation; we have a basic obligation to our citizens for good schools, safe neighborhoods, safe roads and bridges, basic healthcare to its most vulnerable citizens, and a commitment to clean up our environment.”

The mantra “Maryland is one of the richest states in the nation” is constantly used by the state’s liberals to justify tax increases. These taxes, however, aren’t going to impact the richest people in our state as much as they will our middle and working class citizens and the small businesses that drive our state’s economy. There aren’t enough “rich” people to pay for all the spending the current government in Annapolis desires. The bulk of the tax increase is coming out of the pockets of everyday Marylanders and our small business owners, neither of whom are feeling like they live in “one of the richest states in the nation” these days with the costs of housing, gas, utilities and consumer credit on the rise. What’s worse, the special session didn’t succeed in its stated objective of closing the gap between expected income and desired spending. It bears repeating that the budget today is balanced and the only reason for the rush job we endured in Annapolis in November is because they want to spend more money than they expect to collect. The fact is there are more taxes on the horizon to cover the projected deficit AND increase spending.

As to our “basic obligation,” no reasonable person stands in opposition to government providing essential services for the common good. The implication that those who oppose taxes are threatening our quality of life is a diversion and fails to address a key reason why most people, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, resist higher taxes. There is a continuing “results gap” between the amount of money government spends and the actual results achieved.

For example, spending on education in Maryland has gone up 59 percent since 2002 and comprises one-third of the budget. Maryland spends 20% more per resident on K-12 education than the U.S. average. Despite the state’s generous outlays of tax dollars, our children’s scores on national standardized tests are stagnant and some Maryland school districts are chronically dysfunctional.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It’s clear we’re not getting the value we expect out of the taxes we’re compelled to pay but no one wants to address that thorny issue. From now on, don’t let the politicians brush you off with the “basic obligation” red herring, and don’t let them boast of the money they’ve allocated to worthy causes. Make them address the “results gap.” Ask them what they’ve really achieved with YOUR money. Results, not dollars, ought to be the true measure of their accomplishments.