Michael  Steele

America has always been the land of opportunity. It is a land where the American Dream is more than just a dream; it is a tangible motivator that fosters a pioneer and entrepreneurial spirit. Along the way, the nation has faced challenges, overcome obstacles and fought to keep the American Dream alive. Indeed, that dream has endured and, in fact, grown by adapting to a changing world.

So, when the legislature returned to Annapolis in January 2007, I noted the rhetoric and advocacy of our leaders and how they proposed to respond to the challenges of balancing Maryland's budget needs with the fiscal needs of Maryland families and businesses. I wondered whether legislators would secure the legacy wealth of hard working Marylanders or dilute it. Spending and taxation had their advocates. Who would be the advocate for the people?

Certainly not Governor Martin O’Malley who sought and obtained passage of a “prevailing wage” on all state projects, thereby artificially inflating wages and increasing the cost to the taxpayers. He also capped tuition at the University of Maryland, leaving the state with the increased bill to cover the difference. Remember BG&E anyone? Gov. O’Malley’s appointed members of the Public Service Commission raised electric rates for Maryland’s families already struggling to keep up with rising energy prices. The 2007 legislative session culminated in the passage of Governor O’Malley’s budget which increased government spending by 18%.

When Governor Ehrlich and I took office in 2003, Maryland faced a record budget deficit of $2 billion, an unfriendly business climate, a deteriorating Chesapeake Bay, and an inadequate transportation system. Through fiscal prudence and discipline, four years later, we left state government with a $1 billion budget surplus without a enacting a sales or income tax increase. Our administration cut government spending by more than $700 million in our first six months. We cut the size of the executive branch work force by 7 percent and defeated $7.5 billion in proposed new taxes over the course of four years. What a difference responsible leadership can make.

At the recent conclusion of the “Special Session” of the Maryland General Assembly, it became clear once again there were no advocates for the needs of Maryland’s citizens and that any economic growth would become harder for Maryland’s families, businesses, and entrepreneurs to achieve.

Michael Steele

Michael Steele is a former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.
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