Visit this page every week for legislative analysis, issues that should cause concern and my strategy to move Maryland and the city of Baltimore forward. New articles will usually be posted on Tuesdays.

Doug Barry

Historian, Political Philosopher, Veteran

 The Strategy  February 22, 2014


Gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown posted an online commercial this week, attacking Doug Gansler by contrasting clips of Gansler saying we can't afford universal Pre-K in Maryland, and criticizing Gansler's proposal to lower the corporate tax rate to match the rate in Virginia. I'm not re-posting the video, because I don't want to propagate misleading information.

First of all, it's not a given that we can't do both, but Governor O'Malley and the Lt. Governor have not done a sufficient job of explaining how they are going to pay for pre-k for all children. It is not acceptable to add any additional expense to the State budget that would require an additional source of revenue. Anything new added to the budget at this point must be paid for by making an equal or greater budget cut elsewhere. We do not have unlimited funds to pay every new program we may want to do.

For the second issue covered in the commercial, it is not a corporate giveaway as the Lt. Governor suggests. Attorney General Gansler is instead saying that we are losing corporations, and therefore jobs to Virginia, and that he would like the State of Maryland to be able to compete on equal terms. If a corporation chooses to locate in Virginia instead of Maryland, or even worse if a corporation leaves Maryland, we get ZERO tax revenue from that corporation. We also lose the revenue we would get from the employees working for that corporation.

If we really can't do both, it is far more devastating for a child to be in a household where his or her parents are unemployed, than it is to not go through pre-school. The financial problems a household experiences from any extended period of unemployment exposes children to a level of turmoil that can have a dramatic impact on their performance in school. The likelihood of divorce in a household having financial problems is far higher, usually preceded by years of arguments. Incidents of domestic violence are much more frequent in these households as well.

The video from the Brown campaign spins the issues very effectively, but we need to start looking beyond commercials and sound bites to examine the real consequences of anything candidates propose. Maryland's budget has increased more than a billion dollars a year over the last eight years (more than two billion a year from 2013 to 2015), and the business climate in the State has become less and less favorable. Neither of these trends is sustainable.