Budget choices are never easy, and you may have different ideas and solutions. And we look forward to hearing them, and to working together with you to find common ground.
As long as those solutions don’t include increasing taxes, spending more than we take in, or going further into debt.
And remember, every penny that is added to one program, must be taken from another.
Failing to spend the taxpayer’s money in a responsible way could eventually jeopardize our ability to adequately fund education, transportation, environmental programs, and provide support to the vulnerable and those most in need.
We simply cannot let that happen.
So, how do we begin to change direction, and to improve the state that we all love?
It wont happen overnight, and there will be times and issues that will test us all, but there are a number of initial actions that I believe we must begin working on immediately.
Maryland’s anti-business attitude, combined with our onerous tax and regulatory policies have rendered our state unable to compete with any of the states in our region. It’s the reason that businesses, jobs and taxpayers have been fleeing our state at an alarming rate.
It’s at the heart of the fiscal and economic issues we are currently dealing with, and it is something we must find solutions to.
A year ago, I held my second annual Change Maryland Business Summit on Improving Maryland’s Economic Competitiveness.
We became the leading voice on these issues - it’s the reason I have the honor of being your governor, and it will be the primary focus of our administration.
I want to commend Senate President Miller and Speaker Busch for recognizing the need to make Maryland more economically competitive.
A year ago, at their urging, this legislature created the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, also known as the Augustine Commission, to make recommendations to make Maryland competitive. It was a great first step, and we are anxiously awaiting the recommendations of this commission.
But, I am confident that we will find many areas of agreement to make Maryland a more business friendly and more competitive state, so that we can create more jobs and more opportunities for our citizens.
I’m proud of the experienced, diverse and bipartisan Cabinet that we have assembled to take over the reigns of state government.
Many of them bring fresh, innovative ideas and valuable real world, private-sector management expertise to their agencies. Their primary mission will be to find ways to restructure their agencies and to make state government more efficient, and more cost effective.
But, we also want to change the culture of state government.
The voters have given us an opportunity to build a government that works for the people - and not the other way around.
Comptroller Franchot noted at his swearing-in last week that we must reinstate old-fashioned customer service to every aspect of government.
I completely agree - and together we will.
Dealing with the problem of storm water management and working to restore our most treasured asset, the Chesapeake Bay, is a goal we all strongly agree on.
But in my humble opinion, passing a state law that forced certain counties to raise taxes on their citizens - against their will - may not have been the best way to address the issue.
If there was one message that Marylanders have made perfectly clear it was that taxing struggling and already overtaxed Marylanders for the rain that falls on the roof of their homes was a mistake that needs to be corrected.
This week, our administration will submit legislation to repeal the rain tax.
Nearly every day I hear from folks who say that they love the state of Maryland, that they have spent their entire lives here, and that they don’t want to leave their kids and grandkids. But, that they simply cannot afford to stay here on a fixed income.
We are losing many of our best and brightest citizens to other states.
Eventually, once we solve our current budget crisis, and turn our economy around, I want to reach the point where we are able to do away with income taxes on all retirement income, just as many other states have done.
This week, we will start heading toward that goal by submitting legislation that repeals income taxes on pensions for retired military, police, fire, and first responders.
These brave men and women have put their lives on the line for us - they deserve it - and they have earned these tax breaks.
I have spent most of my life in the private sector, running a small business in a state that, at times, seemed openly hostile to people like me.
There is much more for us to do, but as a first step, I’m proposing cutting personal property taxes for small businesses.
This burdensome tax and bureaucratic paperwork discourages the creation of new business, and drives small businesses and jobs elsewhere.
This legislation would create a tax exemption on the first $10,000 in personal property, entirely eliminating this tax for more than 70,000 small business owners -- or one-half of all Maryland’s businesses.
After syphoning a billion dollars from the Transportation Trust Fund, a decision was made to enact the largest gas tax increase in state history. This legislation also included language that would automatically increase taxes every single year without it ever having a coming up for a vote.
Marylanders deserve the transparency to know how their elected leaders vote every time the state takes a bigger share of their hard-earned dollars. This is a regressive tax that hurts struggling Maryland families and our most vulnerable, and which adds to the cost of almost everything.
These automatic tax increases should be repealed, and we will submit legislation to do so.
Over the last several years, monies for local road improvements have been slashed by up to 96 percent.
Our administration is committed to restoring the money that was taken from the transportation trust fund, and to making sure that it never happens again.
Today I am pleased to announce a supplemental to our FY2016 budget that will increase Highway User Revenues by $25 million and give counties and municipalities the most money for road improvements that they have received since FY 2009.
Further, we are committed to increasing the local share of Highway User Revenues from 10% today to its original high point of 30% over the next 8 years.