The following letter was received from the office of Delegate Wayne Norman:
Our state is in a dire fiscal situation. That is the only way to describe our current budgetary shortfalls. The economy has hurt everyone, but the state doesn’t have a recession problem so much as a spending problem. The FY2010 budget allocated over 32 billion dollars for state programs; in FY2008 Maryland’s revenues came in under 18 1/2 billion dollars.
The state cannot expect a sudden revenue boom; just weeks after the record setting high-dollar budget passed, Governor O’Malley was forced to make millions of dollars in one-time cuts. Our state workers were put on furloughs, and services to Maryland citizens were decreased, halted, or canceled.
Now the Governor’s Salary Commission has recommended pay hikes for the leaders implementing cuts. The governor’s pay is to increase $10,000 to $160,000, in addition to the governor’s free mansion, a $100,000 state entertainment budget, and SUVs with State Police drivers and protection, among other office perks. The lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, and the state treasurer are also recommended to get raises. As if that weren’t enough, there is another proposal to raise the salaries—and pensions—of all 188 legislators.
These proposals show the poor leadership and fiscal policy that continually gets Annapolis into these problems. As a business owner, I pay my employees before I get a paycheck. If I furloughed an employee and gave myself a bonus, I would soon be working alone. This is the common-sense fiscal approach that I take to Annapolis as the 2010 session begins next month.
I pledge to oppose any pay raise proposals this session, and I pledge to argue for a return to fiscal prudence in Maryland. As you finish your Christmas shopping this season, remember that those extra tax dollars will be allocated over the next 90 days in the state budget. After you shop for your loved ones and drop off a little donation to the Salvation Army bell-ringers, make sure the voice of reason is heard in Annapolis.
Dave Tritt says
All this is well and good, but Mr. Norman has a voting record,and it is not consistent with his public remarks about saving taxpayer’s money. I also oppose pay raises for elected officials, but that number is dwarfed by the amount of debt that Mr. Norman voted to add to the budget last year in a single bill.
Wayne Norman voted to add over $1.1 BILLION to the state debt just last year. Period. That’s over ONE THOUSAND MILLION DOLLARS.This isn’t chump change- though Mr. Norman and Mrs. Stifler voted for it as though it was. The amount the taxpayers spend every year on interest, bond fees, and other fees associated with this debt is in the hundreds of millions annually.
The people of Harford deserve fiscally responsible leadership and representation in Annapolis, and that is what Jason Gallion and I offer. We need to fire these politicians who say one thing to get elected, then do something else when they think you’re not watching.
Also Dave says
Dave, you don’t get it. First, you keep harping on this one vote — one of hundreds. Second, the debt you talk about is bond financing for roads and schools. All states, localities and large businesses leverage money is this way for capital improvements. You do too, if you own a home and have a mortgage. That’s why the vote was largely bi-partisan. It’s the operating budget (e.g., medicaid and other welfare programs) that poses the biggest problem.
Thank you for taking a stand Delegate Norman! I cannot believe pay raises could be given after all the furloughs. You are the fiscal voice that makes sense.
Mr. Tritt, I hope your campaign has more to offer than this. Trying to paint an outstanding citizen and legislator into a box using one sensible vote doesn’t make sense. Even if you were right (and you’re not), someone who is fiscally responsible 99 out of a 100 is what we need. If the only thing you’d do different is vote against the operating budget (and hurt Harford), your change isn’t welcome.
Wayne Norman says
Mr. Tritt: Perhaps you suggest that the people of Harford County should just keep on paying taxes so that our money can be spent in PG or Montgomery County rather than at home. Mr. Tritt-there is a big difference between a capital and a general budget. You really should look in to the difference, because it is a big one. Lastly, does Jason Gallion agree with what you are saying? I doubt it in light of all of the money in the capitol budget for the fire training facility that the delegation was able to bring back to Harford, and in light of Jason’s position in the fire service.
Dave Tritt says
What seems to be lost in this discussion is that $1 BILLION in NEW DEBT (money we don’t have) is not responsible, especially in light of the current economic situation. The amount the state (taxpayers) spend on bond fees, interest on the debt, etc. is simply unsustainable.
On the issue of the fire training facility- the amount of money Harford got was something in the neighborhood of $7 million. So we spend nearly $1,200 million so we can get $7 million back? That doesn’t make sense to me. I like Five Guys Cheeseburgers, and they are good, but using your logic, it would be OK to pay $1200 for a Cheeseburger because it tastes good. I don’t buy into that logic.
Also Dave- it is true that part of this bill contains money for roads and schools, but to make it sound like that’s all that is in there is simply inaccurate. There’s millions in there for entertainment, skate parks, dance instruction companies, and a whole lot of other junk. Read the bill, I did.
Stephan, as you will see as the campaign unfolds- our campaign is about much more than just one bad vote. Stay tuned!!
One Note Sally says
Mr. Tritt, you’re a one note sally on this one vote by Dels. Norman and Stifler and Senator Glassman. It’s hard to run a campaign on one vote. (I note you never criticize Sen. Glassman on this vote.)
I reviewed the bill. I estimate that 95% of the bond-financed revenue is for schools, hospitals, colleges, police, fire & rescue facilities, water & sewer, etc. — in other words public infrastructure. A vast majority of the funding is distributed throughout the state (including Harford County) on a formula basis (not earmarked funds). This bill shouldn’t be a political issue. It passed overwhelmingly.
Based on your comments, I get this sense that you think that large infrastructure projects are paid in cash. The ICC, Upper Chesapeake expansion, the new Bel Air high school, new fire stations, etc. are all paid in part with some kind of bond financing.
Maryland is one of only a handful of states with a AAA bond-rating from Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s. That means its bonds are issued at a very low interest rate — much lower than the rate of inflation in the construction industry.
Issuing bonds — like a mortgage on a house — is oftentimes a good investment, so long as you can make the payments. The AAA bond-rating is strong indicator that, when it comes to covering capital/infrastructure investments, Maryland can meet its obligations.
I think there is a vast difference between hamburgers(operating expense) and the fire training facility(capital expense). The effect of the hamburger will last for a couple of hours for one person, the effect of the fire training facility will last for years to come and serve all of the citizens of Harford County.
On roads, the work to 24 and 924 is long overdue, this intersection has had a “F” rating for years. Should we not do the work and at what cost in lives. We sould not go into debt for the sake of spending, however for life saving infastructure, the cost is offset by the gains to be had.
Tiny tax payer says
Mr. Tritt, I agree with you. I think that the unsustainable debt will cause more foreclosures in Harf. county. The facts show that this cannot continue if people are to live here. You make several valid points about the budget. Spending money I feel could be stopped for a time, for entertainment and raises. Like skate parks or dance classes. I wouldn’t mind getting a $10,000 raise this year, but I don’t see that happening for very many folks. I wonder how many bags of clothes or food one of Gov. OMalley’s parties would provide for the homeless shelters or for the missions around the state. If the guests were to bring a can of food or a box of spaghetti for the hungry, that would help, too.
One Note Sally says
That’s the operating budget. And that’s what your Republican delegation in Harford voted against. However, roads, schools, bridges, etc. need to be maintained — that’s funded through the capital budget.
Dave Tritt says
No one is against roads, bridges and infrastructure. To characterize my comments as being against those things is not accurate.I am glad the plows are out today, so we all can get where we need to go.
What I am steadfastly against is government waste. The CAPITAL and the OPERATING budgets are BOTH full of waste. I don’t buy into the notion that we should support a bill full of waste just because it has a few goodies in it for the county. We need to cut the fat!
One Note Sally says
You’re changing your position. You attacked the northern Harford Republican delegation for voting for the 2009 capital (infrastructure) budget. Now you’re saying, well, I’m only against the wasteful parts of the capital budget (which is miniscule compared to the needed funding for schools, roads, etc.).
Legislators are oftentimes forced to make a yes or no vote. I’m guessing that Glassman, Norman and Stilfer reviewed the capital/infrastructure budget and determined that the pro’s outweighed the con’s. And they voted against the operating budget because they thought it was too bloated with unnecessary and wasteful spending.
Dave Tritt says
You are setting up a straw man argument that I did not make, and I am not going for it. You can support legitimate infrastructure projects and still fight against all of the other waste in the bill. If you think the bill is only for roads and bridges, then you have not read the whole thing.
Just because someone is against wasteful spending doesn’t mean they are anti-road, anti-public safety, etc. The state is NOT broke, as Mr. Norman has publicly asserted. Politicians in Annapolis are simply wasting way too much of our money on programs that are wasteful, inefficient, and increase the size and scope of government into our private lives. We all want decent infrastrucure, but all that money being spent is OUR money that we work hard for. We all need to make sure it gets spent efficiently and wisely, and for things that are truly needed.
Do you defend giving $1 million to an opera house? Why do you defend spending hundreds of thousands on skate parks in PG and Montgomery Counties? Do you defend spending thousands on a dance school? Do you support agressive land aquisition by the state when the state already owns over 22% of land in Maryland- not including roads and right of ways? I can keep going, but all of this was in the Capital budget that you defend. These concerns are legitimate, and shared by many concerned voters I have spoken with. All this while people are losing jobs, income, and houses in a recession.
I think we really need to look at the budget process and what we are giving up to get a very small return.
Dave a few things you assert this is only a dem thing. What about the intrusion of some republicans in the US house in 2005 who attempted to pass a bill affecting the end of life wishes of a single person?
Any who what is wrong with a skate park in PG or Montgomery county. Or in point of fact what is wrong with them anywhere? What is wrong with an opera house? Particularly since it was a referendum that passed?
By the way, snow plowing and salting come out of the operating budget for SHA in MDOT for State roads. The county budget pays for the county roads from its operating budget.
I really enjoy using my public parks and my children love to use public classes, such as dance. I like to educate my kids on the arts and humanities even if we can not afford to do so. Thanks to Mr. Norman and Mrs. Stiffler we can do so.
Also Dave says
Dave, the bill you are talking about passed 124-13. By voting no, the bill would have passed 123-14.
As Chris Farley would say: la-de-freaking-da!
Dave, you can aspire to be one of those legislators who votes “no” on everything. If so, then you are aspiring to be a legislator who gets nothing done and is irrelevant in Annapolis. That’s NOT what Harford needs.
Thank you! Either way it would have passed. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow in order to do bigger and better things!
This all shows a total lack of understanding of how the budgets are prepared. The Governor prepares the budget, which is presented to the General Assembly. The GA holds hearnigs on the budget with hearings on each part. The GA can cut the budget, but they CAN NOT increase it. It is also not open to line item cuts. For example the MDOT budget could be cut by 5%, but individual lines are not avaliable for cuts. The biggest problem are the agencies themselves, the mind set has to be changed, “its government money, who cares”. When I worked for the State, I was told “we have a budget of X Million, as long as we don’t spend X milloin plus $1, who cares where it goes”. My response was, “I’d rather spend funding on things we need than dump it down the drain.
Without the capital funding there would be no road improvements for BRAC. The long term paybacks are what need to be looked at.
Tiny taxpayer says
The budget is created by the governor. It also affects the citizens that he allegedly “feels” for so deeply. I think that we, residents, do not need to fund skate parks or opera houses now.People can fund their own, if the need exists. Otherwise, use what is available or do without.
I think that the money generated by the state, taxes paid by us, should not be an unending piggy bank based on the whims of the governor and Gen. assembly. The budget should be based on last years budget. While citizens still have say in what money is spent, they should participate by phone, mail and email to the gov. and the Gen.Assembly. The lack of common sense that reigns by many of our legislators is only outweighed by the lack of involvement by our state’s taxpayers, us.
If you feel this way, your gripe is with who wrote the bill. Not with who was forced to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
It’s funny the Harford Republican Delegates walk around and boast about voting against the Budget..then I see them at Arc events, libraries, school events,,,smiling and cutting ribbons yet they vote against the very document that sends funds to the county…this argument between the capital and operating budgets is just more of their usual shell game…at the very least the operating budget isnt just more borrowed money which is in the capital budget…it’s like Del. Stifler talking about safety on the Bel Air Bypass,,where does she think the State Troopers and SHA workers ar paid from..the very same budget she votes against.
Al J Thong says
What a wonderful world we live in. First we had Wayne Norman who made considerable money chasing down folks who were down on their luck and late on their payments and litigating their loses. Now we have Norman shift from bill collector to bill and toxic debt maker. You gotta love the irony.
Mr Thong: Your statement is at best misguided, at worst libelous. Mr Norman acted for me over a disputed bill due from a much larger business, and, which if not paid jeopardized the future of my business. Mr Norman negotiated a settlement, and although we have never met, even gave me a break on his fees for his service.
Businesses rely on bills for goods and services being paid, and in the event they are not paid there is a legal system to negotiate recovery. This is NOT, as you imply, a form of harrassement against the underpriveliged, but a time proven system to prevent financial failures to either party.
Al J Thong says
Coledata: Finding someone who has warm and fuzzy memories of a bill collector is as rare as finding an advark in your driveway.
If you paid for things you bought or owed, you would not have any issues. YOU owed the money to someone probably in the same economic standings as yourself. DO NOT BUY THING YOU CAN NOT AFFORD. If someone owed you a large sum of money then you would hire a collections attorney just the same. Don’t be hypocritical.
Mr. Thong, do not be a deadbeat and no one will need to file an action against you. There are folks who contract for a job and then stiff the contractor. If someone fails to pay me for work done, I’ll hire Me. Norman to go get them to pay what they owe.
Linda Norman says
Bill and Mr. Thong: My husband and I have lived in the County for 35 years. We own a business with 10 employees. We have supported many local charities such as The Arc, Boys and Girls Club, Harford Charities, The Empty Stocking Fund, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and many more. We have done that with our own money and have done this long before Wayne became a legislator. We feel very privledged to be able to help the less fortunate and I do not feel that we should have to apologize or defend ourselves for that. Wayne has also respresented many people for free over the years because he felt they needed representation and they could not afford it. He has also served on numerous boards and committees, too many to list. He does these things because he loves the County we live in and he feels it is his duty to support his community. He has done these things since the day we moved to this county, not just in the past several years as a way to get elected to politics. Any one who uses half truths and nasty comments either do not know Wayne Norman or they are just trying to make themselves look better to advance themselves.