The promise was to “Change Maryland” and much has changed already. The shock to
Maryland’s political class is still being realized as the new governor and his administration takes
form, and the General Assembly adapts to its 58 new members. The state legislature reconvenes
for its 435th ninety day session on Wednesday, January 14th.
The new governor seems to recognize the rarity of this chance, being only the third Republican administration in recent times. So far he has been very deliberate in his actions, slowly rolling out appointments and refusing to begin the public debate before carefully assessing state government and assuming the levers of power. His people speak passionately of the lessons learned from past administrations and their devotion not to make the same mistakes as they assemble their team to lead our state for the next four years.
At a minimum, a fresh set of eyes will bring a NEW scrutiny that will expose many latent issues in state government and hopefully force real reform. So many laws and policies that were inconvenient or not politically expedient were ignored or subverted and will hopefully be looked at a new in this new administration.
The first area I would hope they investigate is “truth in budgeting.” The spirit of the Maryland constitutional provision of a mandated balance budget is routinely violated. No other law has been so roundly praised while the subversion of its intent occupies so many. By calling a 3 a “4” and a 5 a “4”, state government can pretend that “4” equals “4” but by September of every year we find out the state “miscalculated” by a billion dollars.
Elaborate schemes are devised to get around spending and debt limits. The proposed State Center Project and the light rail Purple Line are just two examples of financial structures designed to hide huge new spending and state debt from the state budget by labeling it a “private entity”.
Another subversion is state duplicity on illegal aliens. Billions of dollars of state and federal taxpayer money are spent in violation of state and federal law that limits certain types of aid to individuals living here in violation of our laws. State agencies turn a blind eye to the problem by simply never asking the question if someone is here illegally, and refusing to ask for documentation required by law. Such actions open state benefits up to wide variety of fraud for which the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) has fined us repeatedly and proclaimed Maryland number #1 in fraud for many years in a row.
In addition to benefits, Maryland has granted illegal aliens state issued drivers licenses and college benefits, both in violation of federal law. Reduced in-state tuition crowds out deserving Maryland students, and Maryland drivers licenses help illegal aliens violate additional laws in employment and voting.
These are but two areas of frustration out of many that I hope will be addressed by our new governor. I am optimistic, and certain that it will be an interesting four years.