If there was ever a time to come together on Maryland’s budget woes, now would be the time. With a cumulative $8 billion deficit by 2015 on the horizon, we have to make systemic changes in Maryland’s budget unless we want future generations to inherit the burden.
Recently the Democrat leadership of the Maryland General Assembly invited the Republicans to share their ideas on how to resolve the structural deficit. The House Republican Caucus accepted that invitation and unveiled a plan that would end the structural deficit, fully fund the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, eliminate the need for state employee furloughs and allow Maryland to roll back the tax increases from 2007.
I realize that with 188 legislators there are 188 different opinions on how to balance the budget and I also realize that the devil is always in the details. However, the challenge for this legislative session will be choosing options from both sides of the aisle that will ultimately result in a balanced budget without the need for future tax increases. While some have chosen to stand on the sidelines and pick the Republican plan apart or criticize the Democrats for inviting us to the table, the exercise was never meant to be a fait accompli. Rather, it is a starting point. In the words of one Democrat Senator who attended the meeting, “we need all hands on deck” and in the words of Ronald Reagan, “all great change in America begins at the dinner table”.