Doug will fight for you by delivering on the #1 priority in our state: jobs for all Maryland. Read More >>
Year after year our state is ranked among the 10 most violent states in the nation. Doug has a plan to make Maryland one of the 10 safest. Read More >>
The money government spends is the people’s money – your money – and the way we budget and spend the people’s money should reflect our shared values. After all, our budget is a moral document. We owe it to every hardworking Marylander who pays taxes to ensure that each dollar the government spends is spent wisely and effectively. When I look at the bad spending habits that have become the norm over the last several years, I am convinced that we can do more for the people of Maryland – better public schools, more affordable health care, a cleaner Bay – without unnecessarily increasing our debt or your taxes. The state health insurance exchange debacle overseen by Lt. Governor Brown is proof of the waste that is now occurring in state government spending, with no transparency or accountability to taxpayers. We can do better. The norm over the past several years does not need to be the norm of tomorrow.
I will ensure that our approach to spending truly reflects the values we hold – having the nation’s best public schools, affordable colleges and universities and a sound infrastructure to support a growing economy, with good-paying jobs – without leveraging your future or the future of your children to do so. This means making government more transparent and accountable in how it manages state money to ensure we can create more opportunities for our middle class families to flourish. Lt. Governor Brown has not provided one penny’s worth of accountability for his spending – that has got to change.
As Attorney General, I am proud to lead a state agency that has spent state money responsibly, receiving two clean fiscal audits in a row – a very rare accomplishment, and one the current Governor’s Office cannot claim. And I am proud to have returned approximately $308 million to the state’s coffers – and $1.5 billion to the people of Maryland – despite having my own budget cut multiple times. It’s this kind of fiscal stewardship and thoughtful management that I will bring to the Governor’s Office, because we owe it to our working families to have a state government that is able to invest in their future without adding to their tax burden. We can cut waste and improve government performance to spend on priorities that we value the most.
How do we do that? We do that by:
1. Spending within our means and ensuring every dollar we collect is spent responsibly and appropriately, because that is the right thing to do;
2. Saving through better performance – identifying where savings can be generated, performance better managed, eliminating inefficiencies and redundancies;
3. Saving through better investment to ensure that tax dollars are invested wisely, using the unique purchasing power of state government;
4. Ensuring everyone pays their fair share, because when all taxpayers are playing by the rules; we get what is owed and do not need to collect a penny more from those who already pay what they owe; and
5. Maximizing federal funding by better leveraging our position as the federal government’s next-door neighbor to ensure we leave no money on the table.
I will give Marylanders the best-managed state government in the nation, because they deserve nothing less.
1. Spending Within Our Means
Despite over seven years of higher taxes and fees, state employee furloughs and budget gimmicks, Maryland continues to go deeper and deeper into debt. Worse yet, the programs supported by these added taxes and fees are not translating into strong gains in education and economic growth.
The way to get our state’s economy growing again is not by spending more and paying for it through putting more and more debt on the state’s credit card. Yet that is exactly what the O’Malley-Brown administration is doing. Right now, spending is growing at over 3% a year on average, and the administration has increased spending by nearly $10 billion since they took office. The state budget was $29 billion in Fiscal Year 2007 and it has grown to $38.7 billion for the coming fiscal year. Spending is not necessarily a bad thing if we have the cash to do it and that spending translates into quality education and a stronger economy, but that just is not the case these days. Instead we are spending more, offering less and taking on more debt to do it.
General Obligation (“GO”) bonds are our state’s version of credit card financing – the more we pay for things through GO bonds rather than state cash, the more we go into debt. From Fiscal Year 2010 through 2014, we used GO bond authorizations to cover normal operating costs instead of cash 25% of the time, to the tune of $1.4 billion – to keep the lights on, run payroll, pay other routine expenses, and replace pay-as-you-go bond (“PAYGO”) funding for capital projects. Meanwhile, our property tax receipts, which are used to help us pay off this bond debt, have remained flat as the costs of servicing that debt are ballooning. This approach to budgeting is simply unsustainable. It comes at the cost of your future. By Fiscal Year 2019, it’s expected that $546 million in additional general fund spending will be required just to cover the interest payments on that debt.
The fact is that the more money that comes out of the General Fund to pay off debt, the less money there is in the Fund to pay for our state’s priorities, like stronger public schools, better access to higher education and improved roads.
This approach to balancing the budget is neither sustainable nor fair to taxpayers. And when it comes to a real plan to pay for our debt, the current leadership seems content with kicking the can down the road, so it becomes someone else’s problem. I say enough is enough. As Governor, I will:
See more of my Good Government Overhaul Proposals:
2. Savings Through Better Performance
In 2012, the O’Malley-Brown administration spent $150,000 to have an independent consultant assess the state’s purchasing processes, and the consultant’s report, which now sits on a shelf collecting dust, cited the lack of statewide leadership on procurement as a significant performance problem to be addressed.
We need leaders who scrutinize our operations to find ways to save money – eliminating redundancies, doing away with outdated processes when there are cheaper, faster and better alternatives, as well as rethinking operations from top to bottom. A recent report on state agency audits revealed that Maryland agencies wasted $63 million dollars in just three years, much of it due to failures to address findings in prior agency audits. That is $63 million dollars that could have been used to help our small businesses, buy new schoolbooks and address growing poverty. That is your hard-earned money that is being mismanaged. We can do better.
Our current procurement practices are also plagued by costly errors. Just recently a decision by the state’s Board of Contract Appeals found numerous “fatal flaws” in one state agency’s contract award process, including basic arithmetic errors.
There are several specific things I will do to remedy these problems, with a goal of reducing procurement spending by 5% over four years for a total savings of $350 million:
Potential Places Where We Could Save
3. Saving Through Better Investment
Cutting just to cut rarely is the right answer, and may unnecessarily put important programs at risk. Instead, we should look for ways to invest more wisely, getting better results that save us money to use for our priorities.
4. Ensure Everyone Pays Their Fair Share
If everyone paid their fair share, there would be more money to invest in the things that Maryland needs and we care about.
5. Maximize Federal Funding
If the federal government is willing to pay for services, then we should be taking full advantage, and not leaving any money on the table. But it also means that we should be spending federal funding more responsibly and not taking it for granted.
The disaster that is the state health insurance exchange, under Lt. Governor Brown’s failed leadership, clearly demonstrates that Maryland must do much better with the federal funding the state is given. As of February, the O’Malley-Brown administration anticipated spending $261 million of state and federal money on the state’s exchange, but Lt. Governor Brown bungled this task. Now in April, they have announced that between $40 million and $50 million of taxpayer money will have to be spent to purchase another state’s software on top of the many tens of millions the state has already spent on temporary fixes and unavoidable Medicaid costs due to the exchange’s initial failure. And more state money will no doubt need to be spent going forward.
Doug was an early and ardent supporter of President Obama’s health care reform law, which guarantees all citizens access to high quality and affordable care. Read More >>
Doug will build on his record of working to protect our environment and the jobs and industries that depend on a clean, thriving Chesapeake Bay. Read More >>
Closing the minority achievement gap will be one of Doug's most important causes. Read More >>
We have outlined a range of renewable proposals that are good for our agricultural economy and good for the environment. Read More >>
Doug’s reform ideas are built on a core belief: the public deserves better and quicker access to legislative and executive spending decisions. Read More >>
Public Safety For nearly two decades, Doug Gansler has made the safety of Marylanders and their families his top priority, combating gangs and violent crime, promoting Internet safety and transparency, targeting public corruption, preventing domestic violence, fighting alcohol and tobacco abuse, and perhaps most importantly mentoring our youth. Read More >>
Consumer Protection Fighting the fraud that has destroyed dreams of home ownership and is killing our healthcare system, Doug Gansler has recovered over 1 billion dollars for Marylanders. Read More >>
ENVIRONMENT Doug Gansler has made protecting our environment, and specifically the Chesapeake Bay, one of his top priorities. Read More >>
CIVIL RIGHTS Doug knows our democracy only works if it works for everyone, which is why he set up the first Division of Civil Rights in the Office of the Attorney General and hired its first director. Read More >>