From Del. Kathy Szeliga:
FACT CHECKING THE STATE OF THE STATE
Hello again! Annapolis grows busier and busier with each passing day. This week Governor O’Malley, joined by the General Assembly and other special dignitaries, delivered the State of the State Address of 2013. With all the international dignitaries in attendance, I knew the State of the State would have something to do with whirled peas – oh, I mean world peace! I was not disappointed.
I agree with the Governor that the Baltimore Ravens are “mighty” and I cannot wait to watch them WIN the Super bowl on Sunday!
Delegate Sue Aumann and I put together a YouTube video – our response to the State of the State. Please check it out!
THE BUDGET MYSTERY
Governor O’Malley continues to speak about alleged historic cuts in spending. What does this mean? The Governor didn’t spend as much as he could have spent? State spending still increased. In fact, the Governor has proposed over $1 billion in spending increases nearly every year he has been in office, evident in the chart below:
Only politicians could call increased spending $1 billion + per year a historic cut in spending. You cannot have it both ways. That’s fuzzy math.
Later on in his speech, the Governor stated “We fixed our pension system.” Once again, this is not correct. In fact, according to the non-partisan Maryland Public Policy Institute, the State paid $229 million in money management fees to Wall Street in the fiscal year ending last June.[i] These fees outweighed the Pension Fund’s income from investment by over $100 million![ii] That’s absurd! If a $100 million pension deficit last year is “fixing” our system, it’s no wonder that the math for the budget is fuzzy too.
I wish our pension system was fixed. I am working on this important issue as a member of the Pension Subcommittee on Appropriations.
Governor O’Malley also mentioned Maryland’s horrible traffic congestion, calling it “…the worst traffic congestion in the United States.” I agree with him. While the Governor mentioned no specific proposal to combat this issue, in past years he has advocated for a gas tax. You can count on me to say NO to any gas tax.
Additionally, he has proposed three new mass transit lines in a state where 92% of its citizens drive cars and the infrastructure of our roads and highways is deteriorating and unacceptable. However, 49% of the transportation budget goes toward mass transit, while only 24% goes toward roads & highways. This is very backwards and not the direction our State should be heading.
We don’t need a new gas tax. We need to prioritize our spending to roads and highways, what the vast majority of our citizens’ use and pay for through gas taxes, titling taxes, registration fees, and corporate and rental car fees.
Once again this year, the Governor pushed wind energy in his State of the State and in his legislative agenda. While he claims it will bring jobs to Maryland, the problem is how expensive it is to build and maintain these turbines. We can incentivize the construction of these turbines all we want, but these turbines will be prohibitively expensive. They are unaffordable to build and maintain. Wind power will always need fees and taxes to supplement the cost when competing with other forms of energy like coal, gas and nuclear.
We have the LARGEST reserves of natural gas in the WORLD. I would prefer to put money into this clean energy source that is exponentially more effective and efficient for a fraction of the cost of wind power. That, however, is not even on the radar of the Leadership in Annapolis.
I do agree with Governor O’Malley on his Full Employment of Veterans initiative. I will be cosponsoring this legislation. We should be ensuring that the men and women who have served our country have hiring preferences and the help they need when they leave the military.
Not to disappoint you, the governor ended his speech with, “… And once leaving them behind, we shall have the reach to make a new world – free from fear, and worthy of our children’s love and trust. Thank you all very, very much.” Just as I had tweeted at the beginning of the speech – World Peace! (Follow me on twitter – @marylandkathy)
Thank you very much for reading this week and I look forward to bringing another update to you next week!
Please do not hesitate to call or email me with any questions or if I can be of assistance to you and your family.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming my way.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga