Comptroller Franchot's Statement on New Revenue Estimates

ANNAPOLIS (December 12, 2018)—The Board of Revenue Estimates voted today to decrease its September 2018 revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2019 by 0.1 percent to $18.07 billion—representing a $18.4 million decrease. Additionally, the board will be revising the September estimates for Fiscal Year 2020 to $18.71 billion, representing a 0.3 percent, or $55 million, decrease from its previous projections.

Following are Comptroller Franchot's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

"At our September meeting, this Board voted to increase our revenue projections by more than $700 million. Thanks to a more than half-a-billion-dollar surplus after we closed the books on FY 2018, the state finds itself with more than $1 billion in unspent revenue as we approach the 2019 Session.

Included in the revenues is the considerable inflow of revenue resulting from Wayfair Supreme Court ruling and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. And as we chart a course for the state's fiscal future, it is incumbent upon our policymakers to make thoughtful decisions on the path forward when it comes to how we spend the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.

The fact of the matter is that while our state's economic bones remain strong, we continue to see stagnation in wage growth and permanent, long-term employment, both of which serve as critical indicators for our state's fiscal and economic outlook.

This is the 113th month of economic expansion since the Great Recession, and the only other expansion to run longer was 119 months, which occurred during the tech boom back in the 1990s. So we're six months out from that historic benchmark, and we cannot expect that we will defy the laws of economic gravity, and we must plan for the inevitable economic downturn that will occur in the future.

That's why I have publicly called upon the Governor and the General Assembly to increase the state's allocation into the Rainy Day Fund, especially now that the state's bank account is considerably higher thanks to the unexpected injection of revenue from the Wayfair decision and the Federal Tax Cuts.

I took office the year before the Great Recession paralyzed our economy. And I, like many in this room, remember the very difficult choices that we had to make as our state tried to weather through the Great Recession.

Budget cuts, furloughs, tax increases were some of the tough decisions that were made by the previous Administration and the General Assembly to balance our state's books. Because it is impossible to foresee unexpected and disruptive changes to our economy due to market volatility and trade uncertainty, and given the continued political turmoil that paralyzes Washington, we—here in Maryland—have an obligation to do everything we can to plan for future economic downturns.

We have to show Maryland taxpayers that we learned our lessons from the Great Recession, and that we—like so many working families and small businesses—are going through our budget line-by-line and foregoing the things we want, in order to pay for the things we need.

As the Governor and legislators prepare to convene for the 2019 Legislative Session, let me once again publicly renew my call for fiscal restraint. I know the General Assembly will be considering a number of very worthy and critically important programs and proposals in the upcoming year.

But it is my sincere hope that my colleagues up the street would be mindful of the great need to carefully consider these proposals' impact on the state's fiscal health and the financial well-being of hardworking Marylanders across our state."

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