Cumberland Times-News


March 26, 2014

It won’t happen

Maryland GOP offers alternative to big spending

For Maryland Republican legislators, their annual attempt to rein-in state spending is tantamount to whistling in the wind. They have no chance of success.

Vastly outnumbered in both the Senate and House, the Republicans’ only recourse is to take their appeal to the public. They did that Tuesday when they offered an alternative to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Republicans are suggesting the state limit spending to 1 percent above last year. O’Malley’s plan is for a 5 percent increase in spending.

From out vantage point here in Western Maryland, where the economy is still feeling the effects of the national recession, a 5 percent increase in spending leaves a bitter taste. Surely state agencies could survive just fine with the more reasonable 1 percent spending increase suggested by the GOP legislators.

House Republicans on Tuesday criticized the governor and state Democrats for diverting some pension payments to help plug budget gaps and for increasing state spending by 5 percent over last year.

The Sun reported that O'Malley's press secretary Nina Smith responded in a statement that the governor has kept college tuition low, spent record amounts on education and navigated a fiscal crisis during his tenure, putting the state on track to close an annual budget gap that once stood at more than $1 billion.

It’s still difficult to believe that state government has to have a 5 percent spending increase virtually every year. We’d prefer a zero increase the coming year — but in spend-happy Maryland, that would never happen.

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