Friday, September 24, 2010



Maryland politicians are spending at unsustainable levels and mortgaging our future. Total spending in Maryland over the past four years was $22 billion more than the preceding four years. Families and entrepreneurs across the income scale have been forced to pay $6.3 billion in new taxes, yet see little return on their investment. Even after these tax increases, $3 billion in fund transfers, and $4.5 billion in federal stimulus funds, Maryland remains in an $8 billion hole from which it cannot emerge without a fundamental reexamination of the services government provides.

Bob Ehrlich will take on five priorities for Maryland’s fiscal future.

Value for dollar budgeting: Government’s legacy the past four years has been to force Marylanders to pay higher taxes while providing them fewer services in return. As a result, families and entrepreneurs get terrible value for their tax dollar and the next Governor gets an $8 billion structural shortfall looming on the horizon.
Bob Ehrlich will scrap the mindset of the past and begin budgeting anew by instituting the Value for Dollar Initiative. The goal will be to align government’s expenditures with revenues by delivering outcomes for Marylanders at a price they are willing to pay – and not a penny more. Value for Dollar Budgeting will:
• Reevaluate the mission of government agencies.
• Shift government’s starting point from last year’s “base entitlement” to what citizens are willing to pay for core government services. That means removing last year’s “base entitlement” entirely and beginning budgeting anew.
• Invest in mission critical programs that deliver high value for the lowest cost.

Conservative budgeting: To maximize Value for Dollar Budgeting’s success, the Ehrlich team will pursue conservative revenue estimates to avoid unpleasant shocks associated when revenues do not meet expectations.

Eliminate needless spending: Bob Ehrlich will change the mindset in government that taxpayers are obligated to fix budget deficits created by politicians. He will direct state government to identify inefficiencies to help balance the budget. For example, the State of Maryland hands out expensive government contracts for public relations services. The Ehrlich Administration will consolidate these assets and eliminate expenditures that are not mission critical in a fiscal crisis. He will enforce laws requiring state agencies to justify grants over $50,000 to determine whether they are necessary. Additionally, the Ehrlich Administration will identify duplicate state and local government functions for potential cost-savings and consolidations.

Pension Reform: The preeminent threat to Maryland’s long-term fiscal solvency is its pension obligations. The Pew Center on the States recently raised “serious concerns” about Maryland’s pension liabilities, noting that Maryland has only 65 percent of the funds needed to meet $33 billion in obligations to retirees. Politicians in Annapolis have done nothing in four years to fix the problem. In fact, they’ve delayed a task force report on pension reform until 2011 – five years after it was created.
As Governor, Bob Ehrlich will introduce bipartisan pension reform in the General Assembly. His proposal will be fair to both pension beneficiaries and the taxpayers who finance the system and will reflect serious discussion with the legislature and state employees about the fiscally responsible path forward. Most importantly, Bob believes all stakeholders in this debate – from beneficiaries and state employees to taxpayers — should be given equal voice and consideration before a final proposal is enacted.

Review Mandates: Nearly three-quarters of Maryland’s $32 billion budget is dedicated to mandated spending. The Ehrlich Administration will commission a bipartisan review of all mandated spending in state government to identify ineffective expenditures.

Modernize Government: Government spending can’t be fixed until we fix government itself. Bob Ehrlich will reform state procurement processes to cut costs on big contracts like computer equipment and office supplies. He will streamline the purchase, management, and sale of state real estate and explore public-private partnerships for costly assets.


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