Stop. Spending. Money.

You know Maryland is turned upside down when a Republican and a Democrat agree on the solution to our state’s economic ills. Doug Duncan, former Montgomery County executive and candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006, wrote  a column in the Washington Post criticizing the small thinking of Maryland’s elected officials in the current budget crisis. The solution he proposes is precisely what I’ve been advocating since my first campaign in 2006:

Can state and local elected officials get back to basics by adopting zero-based budgeting and conducting a healthy review of government's core missions and competencies? Can they decide a program is no longer affordable and then cut it entirely out of the budget? Can they get ahead of the revenue forecasts and stop changing budgets every few months? Can they redesign services to face a new economic reality?

The only difference between our proposals is when a conservative Republican offers it, it’s called tired and stale. When a liberal Democrat suggests it, he gets an op-ed piece in the Washington Post.

Of course, anything goes in a political Bizzaro world where Democrats can pass a $787 billion package of money we don’t have to pay off liberal organizations, expand the size and intrusiveness of government, and give us individual taxpayers a smidge of stimulus that amounts to $13 a week in our pockets, then turn around and announce a fiscal responsibility initiative to manage the budget deficit they just increased by nearly a trillion dollars.

Only in Maryland could we face a $2 billion deficit yet increase spending by $800 million anyway. Only here could our state Senator for the past 34 years call for fiscal responsibility despite the fact our current problems occurred under his leadership.

Frankly, the only plan our elected officials seem to have is how to spend money. Don’t you get the impression they aren’t sure what they’re doing? Every year they come to us with the solution that’s going to solve our budget problems once and for all, only to come back a year later with the next end-all solution.

Maryland is near the top on three “worst” lists; 4th worst tax burden, 5th worst in cost of living and 6th worst  in the cost of doing business. Our current crop of elected officials are incapable of thinking beyond incremental fixes. The future won’t wait. It’s time to take the first step and demand our legislators support Senate Bill 747 and House Bill 684, the Taxpayer Protection Act.  This legislation would require a 60% vote in each chamber to raise existing taxes or create new ones. If we restrain their ability to raise taxes, maybe they’ll start to answer important questions like:

“Should government be spending money on this?”

“Does this benefit the most people and in what way?”

“What does success look like and how do we measure it?”

“If it isn’t working, how do we stop funding it?”

Any takers?