After reading Mr. Guzman's letter praising Governor O'Malley's leadership, I wondered if we were living in the same state. As a person blessed to have been a manager and leader in our armed forces and the public, private and non-profit sectors, I differ with his assessment of Governor O'Malley's leadership skills. When it comes to good stewardship, his actions are nothing less than fiscal malpractice. This fiscal year alone, he increased the overall budget by $1.1 billion, 3.5% higher than last year. The only way he was able to balance the budget was to take $1.8 billion over two years from funds set aside for specific purposes. Many of his "reductions" are actually fund transfers. He was also fortunate to waddle away from the federal trough with $2.5 billion over two years from Uncle Sam who's printing counterfeit money down in the basement of the Capitol.
He also cut aid to local governments by $113 million, passing the buck to the counties who now have to deal with the loss of revenue.
Unfortunately for the Maryland taxpayer, the "Three Amigos" - O'Malley, Senate President Mike Miller, and Speaker Mike Busch - are doing exactly what O'Malley accused his Republican predecessor, Governor Bob Ehrlich, of doing when it comes to the state's fiscal well-being. They are avoiding the hard decisions and transformation needed to solve the state's fiscal crisis for the long term.
Every year he's been in office, O'Malley has found a way to wriggle out from under making tough but responsible budgetary decisions. In 2007, he raided the $1 billion-plus rainy day fund left to him by Governor Ehrlich. In late 2007, he called a special session and enacted the largest tax increase in Maryland history. In 2008, he frightened the voters with threats of deep cuts in essential government services and conned voters into enshrining slot machine gambling in the Maryland constitution. To date, the slots licensing has been a colossal failure. This year, it was the federal government to the rescue.
Budget analysts are predicting annual deficits of $1 billion or more because the state's projected spending is consistently higher than expected revenue. O'Malley is putting a shiny coat of paint over rotten timbers in the hope no one will notice until he's out of office.
Don't expect the "Two Mikes" to be responsible stewards of our family funds, either. They only care about keeping the Democrats in power and if that means throwing around money they don't have and begging Washington for help to offset their vote-buying, so be it.
We need taxpayer protection, zero-based budgeting, performance plans, sunset provisions and fundamental tax reform to get our fiscal house in order. The current regime has had their chance. Every Maryland voter in 2010 ought to remember that elections have consequences - and vote accordingly.