by Barry Rascovar
Opinion and Analysis
THE BIDDING RACE is on. Democratic candidates for governor are seeking to one-up each other on new programs and tax cuts.
All of them ignore the fact Maryland’s finances are unsteady and could continue that way. The next governor is likely to face a structural deficit
exceeding a half-billion dollars.
Yet none of the Democratic candidates wants to face that reality. Instead, they pander to voters.
Del. Heather Mizeur leads the pack as far as spending on feel-good projects with money the state doesn’t have .
That’s not surprising, since Mizeur is on the far left of the Democratic spectrum.
Take pre-kindergarten. Both Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown want to expand it to more four-year-olds. They would dip into casino revenue to pay for it.
What they don’t say is that this will come at the cost of other education programs dependent on the same revenue stream — or the next governor
will have to renege on a pact with Maryland’s horse owners and breeders to use a portion of casino tax receipts to resurrect the state’s troubled racing industry.
Mizeur, meanwhile, goes a step further. She wants pre-kindergarten for three-year-olds, at a cost of a whopping $279 million.
She neglects to say how she will pay for this while overcoming a half-billion-dollar structural deficit.
She also wants to boost teacher pensions and salaries through a “Thornton 2.0″ commission. The first commission boosted education spending by
billions without worrying about how to pay for it. That seems to be Mizeur’s recipe, too.
She does want to soak the rich — a millionaire’s tax and combined reporting for multi-state corporations. Neither is a giant money-raiser, and combined reporting turns into a money-loser during recessionary times.
Tax Breaks For Nearly Everyone
What really sets her apart, and represents her most preposterous proposal, is her plan to give 90 percent of Marylanders (originally billed as 99 percent) a tax break.
This idea places her firmly in the Heather-in-Wonderland camp.
She will cut the income tax for 9 out of every 10 Marylanders by $112 million.
How will she pay for it? Through the new millionaire’s tax.
It sounds great except for one thing — her millionaire’s tax nets Maryland only $10 million. She’s woefully short of paying for her election-year
She also proposes a tax break for small businesses, a vast expansion of the state’s existing $250 million a year school construction program —
without listing a funding source — more money spent on job training and massive new transportation projects.
The funds will come from heaven, apparently, like snow flakes.
Mizeure also made headlines by choosing a running mate with absolutely no government or elective experience.
It’s the worst lieutenant governor selection since former Ambassador Bill Shepard picked his wife, Lois, as his ticket partner in 1990. *
Once again, Mizeur identified herself as an issues candidate who isn’t serious about getting elected. The vast majority of voters have never heard of her running mate (quick quiz: can you give me his full name?). **
It’s a sign of desperation or a sign Mizeur is running as the gay-rights, super-liberal who simply wants to send a message.
Barry Rascovar is a reporter and blogger. He posts his commentary and articles on his blog at politicalmaryland.com
Article Posted 12/3/2013