I participated in my second-ever protest last Sunday when I served as the master of ceremonies for the “Concerned Citizens” Tea Party at Solomons. God gave us a cool, sunny day, great speakers and a crowd Sheriff Evans estimated at between 500-600 people. The homemade signs were excellent and the crowd was anxious to be heard in Annapolis and Washington. The week’s events, however, suggest we’re going to have to turn up the volume because our public “servants” – and I use that term loosely – aren’t listening.
When the General Assembly started this session, they were staring down the barrel of a $1.5 billion deficit. Unlike our federal government which, regardless of party, is spending money like a teenager with daddy’s credit card and quoting budget figures with more zeros in them than a bowl of Froot Loops, Maryland has to balance its budget.
Unfortunately, the Three Amigos of Annapolis – O’Malley, Miller, & Busch – only have two gears in their gearbox and they’re marked “Tax” and “Spend.” That’s why O’Malley submitted a budget dependent on a federal bailout to bring us into balance. The bailout came and O’Malley this week presented a revised budget that is - $516 million in the red? How did that happen?
It happened because in spite of deficits we knew were coming, spending always went up. They hit us with the highest tax increase in state history, proclaiming it would solve our budget problems. They kept spending, however.
They came to us last fall saying slots were the answer. Some of us warned that slots wouldn’t live up to the lies being told, but our opponents outspent us and we voted to enshrine slots into our constitution. Unsurprisingly, the bidding for slots licenses has failed miserably and people in Annapolis are pointing fingers at one another.
They’re still spending, though. Even in the so-called “austere” budget O’Malley submitted this year, overall spending increased.
Don’t expect a tax increase to cover their spending – it’s too close to the next election for them to entertain that notion. Besides, they’d have to explain why the $1.4 billion in taxes they foisted on us in 2007 wasn’t enough. They’re going to have to make painful cuts, among them state aid to the counties, which may make their books look good but just passes the buck and pushes the problem down to our level.
I guarantee you they’ll protect the funding at their disposal to pay off political allies and their constituents and get themselves reelected. Don’t expect them to tell their favored special interests to get in line just like the rest of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to stop drinking the Kool-Aid. There are plenty of Tea Parties planned for our region in the next several weeks. Annapolis and Washington DC are next on April 15th – Tax Day. And after you’ve had a taste of tea and your vigor is renewed, don’t forget to act. 2010 is an election year, after all.