Sen. Jennings: State Budget Just One Big Game

State Sen. J.B. Jennings outlines his concerns over "scare" tactics used by legislators to support tax increases.

I'd like to disclose some behind-the-scenes maneuvering of our beleaguered budget situation in Maryland.

Last week, I shared a list of the .  These were not cuts that I had proposed; however, I supported those cuts if they meant balancing our state’s budget without increasing taxes.

Many politicians say “No” to any new taxes, but they turn around and also won’t support any cuts.  I believe that we can’t have it both ways.

In order to solve a red-ink problem, both sides have to move closer together in order to get to zero. I hope you agree that I acted responsibly by saying “No” to new taxes and also pressing for cuts.

I did not agree with all of the committee recommendations; I actually felt they were incomplete and inadequate. My goal would be to spread the impact across all state government agencies, in the hopes that it would enforce greater efficiencies in government operations.

You see, anytime government needs to make cuts, legislators always go after the emotional issues such as education (how many times have you heard about threatening “our children’s future?”) and public safety.  These tactics are marketing techniques, meant to scare people into allowing the revenue increases (taxes) to go forward.

Politicians always say they will have to close a fire station, or take police officers off the street. They even talk about taking teachers out of the classroom. Those are ridiculous claims, when we should be inspecting the budget to cut chauffeurs for government executives, take-home vehicles and non-essential personnel (an administrator’s assistant’s assistant administrator, for example).

There are massive savings to be had in our state budget on the margins. We don’t need to jump right to laying off teachers and firefighters.

The outcome of these scare tactics is that government keeps growing.  Legislators are afraid to make the tough choices and cut or dismantle programs created in prior years. Too many of our leaders are just politicians afraid of their next election. 

I am proud to take a realistic stand and say “enough is enough.”  I have gotten a fair amount of criticism for this, but I am proud to be your Senator and will enact cuts wherever possible to get our fiscal house in order.

In short, if family budgets are not expanding, why should any government budget be growing well beyond the rate of inflation? I take a firm position on this. 

As we moved through the budget process last week, a lot of interesting things were done to get the budget passed while increasing taxes. The proposed “doomsday” budget was passed, but only with an amendment that all of those cuts were contingent upon failure to pass a revenue (tax increase) package.

This language was added to get enough votes to pass the “doomsday” budget bill, with the tax package passed right behind it. The end result is that all of the "passed" budget cuts are null and void.  Because of this flagrant gamesmanship, I voted against the budget (and of course, against the tax package).  Tax-and-spend liberals got their way, signing onto Gov. O’Malley’s plan to bankrupt our citizens and the state treasury.

The list of new “revenues” is a country mile long. We have new taxes and increased fees for nearly everything. Our great State of Maryland has yet to figure out that the more we tax things, the more taxpayers go elsewhere or find ways around the taxes. 

As Sir Winston Churchill once said,  “Taxing your way out of a situation is like standing in a bucket and picking yourself up by the handle…”

Maybe one day in the near future, enough legislators will see things the way Mr. Churchill did, and more cuts will actually become reality rather than just a sly legislative maneuver.

I stand committed to my constituents and the success of Maryland.

Sen. J.B. Jennings represents District 7, which includes parts of Baltimore and Harford counties.

John Clarke March 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM
You are totally correct in saying these legislators in Annapolis do need to worry about their jobs come the next election. Any dumb ass could balance the budget if they are continualy allowed to tax us all into bankruptcy. They need to totally ignore Mr. Tax O'Malley and start thinking for themselves and start making the tough choices that need to be made to balance the budget.


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