By SARAH TINCHER
ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 16, 2014)—Gov. Martin OMalley released his 2015 budget Wednesday, featuring job creation measures, spending cuts an end to the revenue shortfall and no tax increases for residents during his last year in office.
Overall, OMalley boasts a fiscally responsible $39 billion budget that will cut $457 million in expenditures and generate $163 million in revenue from sales, transfers and payments that will close a $584 million budget shortfall, he said. He also plans to reduce the structural deficit that has been looming over this state for several years, eventually landing at a $31 million surplus by fiscal year 2017.
His budget proposal also calls for a 3 percent increase in in-state college tuition rates since last year, as well as increased expenditures on health care, public safety and sustainability efforts, but OMalley placed his emphasis on job creation and the prosperity of the middle class.
This is a jobs budget, so there are 48,000 jobs that are supported by this budget, most of which result from public school construction, rental housing works, the bay restoration fund and transportation capital budget, OMalley said. Were also going to be doing more, rather than less, to accelerate Marylands advantages in terms of job creation through innovation, he added, citing the states plans to increase the biotech and life sciences, cyber security and research and development tax credits.
However, OMalleys optimism hasnt gone unmet by Republican opposition.
So far the proof hasnt been in the pudding. We believe the biggest problem we have in Maryland is that the states tax structure is too high, the heavy hand of taxes its making people flee, said Delegate Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, the House Minority Leader. IRS data tells us that Maryland families are getting out of here and theyre taking job opportunities with them.
Well the problem is were not competitive, our tax rates arent competitive, so people arent creating jobs in the state at a rate that they could be.
But OMalley said that Marylands job creation rate was almost twice as high as Virginias last year. However, Marylands 6.4 percent unemployment rate was higher than Virginias 5.4 percent in November, according to the most recent statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
OMalley said that the state has cut a cumulative total of $9.1 billion since 2007, when he first became governor. Some Republicans, however, disagreed with his statistics.
Its very false to say he has a balanced budget when it is very clear there is not, said Harford County Executive David Craig, a Republican who is running in the 2014 gubernatorial election. The fact that he says he has cut $9.1 billion in spending means he does not know math.
[former Maryland Gov.] Bob Ehrlich left him $1.2 billion as a surplus and he spent it.
Craig added that OMalley raised taxes 21 times in 2013, and is only cutting less this year because it is an election year. It is all to try to help his anointed one to become governor, he said, referring to Lt. Gov. Anthony Browns candidacy.
Delegate Ron George, R-Anne Arundel, who is also running for governor, agreed that OMalleys numbers were not factual.
[OMalley] says hes had the lowest budget growth and hes comparing himself to Ehrlich, but his budget has grown from $27.8 billion in 2007 to [more than] $38 billion thats a big increase for 8 years, George said. Thats a lot to ask of people in a down economy.