The former governor of Maryland, and former mayor of the currently burning city of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley is preparing a run for president. Here, Cato Institute director of tax policy studies, Chris Edwards, takes on O’Malley’s absolute failure on fiscal responsibility.
Let’s take a closer look at spending. Over O’Malley’s tenure (fiscal years 2007 to 2015), Maryland general fund spending rose 13 percent, based on data from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). Across the nation, state general fund spending rose 15 percent over the period, so O’Malley performed a bit better than average.
However, the general fund is only a fraction of total state spending. According to NASBO, total Maryland spending jumped 33 percent from 2007 to 2014, which compared to the national increase of 25 percent. So by this measure, O’Malley was worse than average.
Now let’s look at tax changes, which are a more precise measure of a governor’s fiscal approach. While governors have only partial control over spending, they have full power to either sign or veto tax increases and cuts. Unless overridden by legislatures, governors are responsible for changes to income taxes, business taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes.
This is where O’Malley reveals his Obama-style tendencies the most, as he raised just about every tax in Maryland. Governor O’Malley:
- Raised the top personal income tax rate from 4.75 to 5.75 percent. With local taxes on top, Maryland’s top rate is 8.95 percent.
- Raised the corporate tax rate from 7.0 to 8.25 percent.
- Raised the sales tax rate from 5 to 6 percent and expanded the sales tax base.
- Raised the sales tax rate on beer, wine, and spirits by 50 percent.
- Raised the gas tax by 20 cents over four years, almost doubling the rate from 23.5 cents.
- Doubled the cigarette tax from $1 to $2 per pack.
- Imposed higher taxes on vehicle registration.
- Imposed a stormwater mitigation fee on property owners, or a “rain tax.”
After eight years, O’Malley had hit income earners, businesses, consumers, smokers, beer drinkers, wine drinkers, and drivers, which probably means everyone in the state. He didn’t just punish the top 1 percent often targeted by Democrats — he gave a tax spanking to all 100 percent of Marylanders.
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