My campaign – and my service as governor – will be built on meeting the needs of people. Not the establishment. Not the special interests.

Disability Rights

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My actions will reflect the values that all persons with disabilities deserve – the opportunity to live independently and work to their capabilities. The current administration is falling short in meeting the needs of the disability community. My administration will do much better. Unemployment among working-age Marylanders with disabilities has grown, and now over 1 in 5 live in poverty.  Read More >>

Tax Cuts

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As Governor, Doug Gansler will cut taxes for working families by providing an income tax credit of $200 per person and $400 per couple (i.e., married filing jointly) for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tax years for households with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 who do not qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Read More >>

Veterans

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Veterans Our state’s veterans have served us with honor, often at great cost to themselves and their families. When they return home to Maryland, we should do all we can to honor them.  Read More >>

Fighting for You: The People’s Money

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Fighting for You: The People’s Money (PDF)

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.

Ways to Improve State Government Performance and Eliminate Waste


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.

General Obligation Debt Outstanding and Required Debt Service

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.

General Obligation (GO) Bond Use for Operating and Replacement Funds FY 2010-2014 and FY 2015-2020 Estimate

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:

  • Hold the line on tax increases. After seven years of more than 40 new and increased taxes and fees costing taxpayers nearly $10 billion through Fiscal Year 2015, we owe it to taxpayers to find other options to pay for new initiatives and we fail them when we do not bother to look for other alternatives.
  • Spend less than the recommended maximum spending limits. We need to rethink how we budget in Maryland. Although the Spending Affordability Committee determines spending limits each budget cycle to ensure the state lives within its means, these limits do not tell us how to prioritize spending. Just because we are authorized to spend money does not mean we have to in order to provide better schools, affordable college and improved roads.
  • Dedicate a portion of surplus monies to outstanding obligations, like pensions and cost of living increases, to make good on the O’Malley-Brown administration’s promises that they have not been able to uphold themselves. It’s the most responsible way to return money to the people, while also addressing our structural deficit.
  • Establish a more open budget process to allow time for more input. Too much of our current budget process happens behind closed doors. At present, the Governor’s budget is not released to the Legislature until the legislative session has already begun, preventing time for meaningful debate to identify spending priorities and potential savings. Getting outside input from officials in the Legislature sooner would provide more time to review agency budget proposals, provide comment and improve choices.
  • Create a one-stop spending center – an easy to use, searchable online tool for taxpayers to find information in plain language about government contracts, spending, subsidies and tax expenditures. The people of Maryland are our best watchdog.

See more of my Good Government Overhaul Proposals:
http://douggansler.com/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.

  • Procurement Reform and Standardization. Maryland’s state government purchases over $7 billion in goods and services annually, but does so in such an inefficient way that it wastes at least $100 million annually and likely much more. Meanwhile, our neighboring states have taken a more thoughtful, efficient approach to spending on goods and services. For example, Pennsylvania used strategic sourcing to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. Additionally, Virginia realized annual savings of $40 million after it established a centralized procurement organization – savings that Maryland can also potentially achieve through standardizing and professionalizing procurement practices. Our state’s troubled health insurance exchange website is a perfect example why standardization matters: The current leadership set up a completely separate procurement process for contracting with IT providers for that exchange, without adequate oversight, and we are now paying the price, with $125.5 million in state money wasted on our original exchange, which is now being scrapped, and another $40-50 million likely to be spent replacing it.

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:

    • Create a Cabinet-level Procurement Office that will identify statewide goals to deliver cost savings and oversee every agency’s purchasing, including a requirement that agencies report cost savings, delivery times and quality of service from vendors.
    • Add compliance officers, where needed, to provide more eyes on the contracts we enter into to ensure that contract bidders are dealing fairly and honestly with the state and the state’s minority contractors and small businesses.
    • Make professional, user-friendly government contracting a bigger priority and provide continued training for procurement officers as well as opportunities for them to collaborate together to resolve problems and implement best practices.
    • Increase the use of statewide contracting and bulk purchasing for things, like desks, basketballs and toilet paper. Why have several regional cooperatives contract separately for basic school supplies and dozens of agencies contract separately for office equipment and other supplies, when it would be faster and cheaper to contract for these at the state level, where we can achieve better economies of scale and negotiate better prices.
  • Eliminate unnecessary tax credits, exemptions and deductions. Maryland has well over 100 tax credits, exemptions and deductions, for everything from elevator handrails to sales of precious coins and vending machine snacks, and they cost the state more than $8 billion in foregone revenue every year. Many lackclear oversight, and others are holdovers from different eras. Failing to eliminate the ones we do not truly need is a waste of taxpayer dollars. For example, a tax credit established to subsidize coal purchases over 25 years ago continues today, when we are producing just 0.2% of the nation’s coal. We could save $3 million a year by eliminating this tax break alone, and redirect the savings generated back into Western Maryland communities to boost job creation, through measures I have already proposed like academic-manufacturing clusters and tax-free incubation for manufacturing start-ups.  See my Jobs Plan: http://douggansler.com/jobs
  • Reduce unavoidable errors. Compliance problems documented in a 2014 review of eight different state agencies may require the state to pay an additional $50 million to address errors discovered. In some cases, the errors were similar to those found in previous audits. Had there been better accounting and record keeping processes in place, these costly mistakes could have been at least partly, if not entirely, avoided.

Potential Places Where We Could Save 

    • The Bid Protest, Contract Appeals and Contract Extension Processes – Costly delays from bid protests and contract appeals now result in the state having to temporarily extend existing contracts at a price of tens of millions of dollars a year. And a 2011 review of the State Highway Administration (SHA), auditors found that, in a single year, the SHA improperly extended contracts nine times. If the protest, appeals and extension processes were improved, we could limit or eliminate these unnecessary and expensive overruns.
    • State Credit Cards – A better monitoring system is needed for the state’s $260 million credit card program to guard against abuse. A recent audit report uncovered $255,000 in inappropriate purchases made on state credit cards for personal items – toys, plane tickets and musical instruments. We must review more than just bank statements to ensure that taxpayer dollars are only spent on business expenses, and monitor actual purchases.

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.

  • Reform remedial education. In 2009, Maryland postsecondary education institutions spent $89 million on remedial education that served 11,768 students, and those figures do not include University of Maryland, College Park. If we could prevent even one third of these students from needing remedial education by strengthening pre-K, better aligning K-12 education with postsecondary education, and improving college readiness, we would save enough money to provide Educational Assistance Grants to each of the 9,764 students on the waiting list right now, helping them pay for college.
  • Criminal justice system reform. Maryland spends $787.5 million on prisons alone. Other states are taking steps to decrease these costs without jeopardizing public safety, and Maryland can, too, by shifting resources to programs that we already know work to produce better outcomes and reduce recidivism rates. For example, Michigan lowered its prison spending by 8.9% between 2006 and 2010 by adopting a series of justice reinvestment reforms, including implementing a more comprehensive reentry program among others. If Maryland were to implement similar reforms as Michigan and achieve comparable results, we could reduce our corrections budget by up to $70 million over four years. See my Public Safety Plan: http://douggansler.com/post_issues/safety/
  • Modernize and abandon outdated functions. If Maryland were to replace its outdated touch-screen voting equipment with optically scanned paper ballots, it could generate an estimated savings of $9.5 million over eight years. Likewise, the state could generate savings through phasing out the State Prosecutor’s Office – a holdover from the Watergate era that was meant to operate like the federal Office of the Special Prosecutor, which was a temporary office. The Office has no legal jurisdiction that is not already covered by a State’s Attorney’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General. We could save up to $1.2 million by eliminating this office and reassigning its personnel to existing, better resourced law enforcement agencies, where their skills and experience can be more effectively put to use. If a need arises for a special prosecutor, for instance to avoid conflict of interest, one can be temporarily appointed, as Congress does now.

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.

  • Close transfer profits loophole. I have already proposed in my Jobs Plan closing the corporate tax loophole that large, multistate corporations use to transfer their profits to subsidiaries in other states to reduce their Maryland tax liability by adopting combined reporting. A 2010 study by the Comptroller shows Maryland would have collected between $92 million and $144 million in additional tax revenue in 2007 by closing this loophole alone. See my Jobs Plan: http://douggansler.com/post_issues/jobs/
  • Close the water’s edge loophole. Combined reporting will also allow Maryland to crackdown on large, multistate corporations that rely on offshore tax havens outside the U.S., allowing us to assess corporate income held in offshore bank accounts based on where the business activity took place. This is estimated to generate an additional $27.3 million annually.
  • Institute a one-time tax amnesty program to encourage individuals and small businesses to pay back taxes owed to the state without penalty. Maryland generated nearly $30 million dollars in revenue during its last amnesty program in 2009. We conservatively estimate that the amnesty program would yield between $5 million and $10 million in revenue – the same amount that the 2009 amnesty program initially predicted it would net.
  • Collect unpaid tolls. Between 2007 and 2012, 650,000 vehicle owners cost the state $6.7 million in unpaid tolls and unpaid tolls on the Intercounty Connector alone have cost us $3 million in less than three years. Yet at that time the state failed to take action, neither collecting the $50 citation for toll violators nor suspending registrations of repeat violators. Unless we enforce the penalties on the books, Maryland will continue to lose millions more each year from the 1% of toll dodgers using our tunnels, bridges and other toll roads for free. It’s time we collect unpaid tolls.

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. 

MD Health Benefit Exchange Funding Sources FY 2011-2015

  • Always look to expand, not cut, state programs that provide a federal match. We should continually be looking for ways the federal government can pay for services that benefit Marylanders. Although Maryland ranks third behind Virginia and Alaska in federal dollars to states per capita, we receive fewer federal grant dollars than 15 other states.
  • Maximize federal support for job training. Under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the federal government provides states funding for job training and employment services. Maryland received a total of about $34 million in WIA funding in 2013. These funds support the operation of our One-Stop Career Centers and the employment services provided through the state’s Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs). The federal guidelines for ensuring that states spend their funding on services that actually help workers find employment are rather lax. Consequently, certain states, like Illinois and Michigan, have adopted their own regulations requiring that no less than 50% of WIA funds be spent on skills training – a standard that Maryland should also adopt.
  • Bring a County Veterans’ Service Officer Program to Maryland. Twenty-seven other states have done this. It’s time that Maryland also takes this step. This would provide federal funding to expand capacity for veterans to file claims and improve outreach services to help our veterans receive their benefits faster.

Safety

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Public_Safety 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 >>

Jobs

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issue_icon1 Doug will fight for you by delivering on the #1 priority in our state: jobs for all Maryland.  Read More >>

HEALTH CARE

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issue_icon3 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 >>

Environment

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Environment 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 >>

EDUCATION

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issue_icon2 Closing the minority achievement gap will be one of Doug's most important causes.  Read More >>

ENERGY

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issue_icon4 We have outlined a range of renewable proposals that are good for our agricultural economy and good for the environment.  Read More >>

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DOUG’S RECORD

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 >>