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O’Malley’s Fuzzy Budget Math

This morning Governor Martin O’Malley tweeted that his administration has restrained spending to 2 percent per year on average.  A claim he says is the lowest in 30 years.

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Is this a subtle shift in O’Malley’s communication strategy? Is he no longer claiming the easily debunked meme of billions in budget cuts?

Since 2011, O’Malley has been touting billions in budget cuts. “I’ve had to cut the state budget by more than any governor in Maryland history,” he claimed at the time. The most recent budget cut number he promulgated is $8.3 billion.

Spending data published by the Department of Legislative Services shows that total state spending between fiscal years 2008 and 2013 grew by 20 percent.  Add in O’Malley’s budget FY 2014, and the increase rises to more than 25 percent or $7.5 billion in actual dollars.

However, let’s assume O’Malley has indeed admitted his $8.3 billion budget cut claim is bogus. His 2 percent spending growth claim is equally bogus.

O’Malley’s gimpy straw man rests on the deception of only counting general fund spending not total state spending.

According to the same DLS data, the average per year increase in spending growth for total state spending is 3.5 percent not 2 percent as O’Malley claims.  Relying solely on general fund spending omits the huge chunk of Maryland’s $82 billion in debt O’Malley rung up on the state’s credit card through swapping out cash for bond debt to pay for the increase in spending.

O’Malley also omits the fact that between FY 2011 and FY 2013, general fund spending grew by 15.5 percent, the highest in the region according to the National Governor’s Association.

Furthermore, if O’Malley’s claim of spending restraint was true then why the need for 37 taxes and fee increases totaling $3.1 billion removed annually from taxpayers?

Bottom line: O’Malley’s math just doesn’t add up.

Mark Newgent

Mark Newgent is a contributing editor to Red Maryland, the premiere blog of conservative politics in the Free State, voted one of the best state political blogs by the Washington Post two years in a row. His writing has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Examiner, National Review Online, and more. Twitter: @MarkNewgent

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