Heavily laden within a bureaucracy mired with silos, regulations and excessive taxes, the signs are clear that Governor Larry Hogan has an opportunity to repel the authoritative rule that has evolved over the last quarter century.
Last month in his State of the State speech, Governor Larry Hogan remarked that “40 consecutive tax hikes have taken an additional $10 billion out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses.”
In his response to the Governor’s statement, Maryland State President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-Calvert County) grabbed attention with the following:
Hitler said that the bigger the lie that you tell, the more easily it’s believed. I’m certainly not equating anyone with Adolf Hitler, but these 48 tax increases over the past eight years is total horse sh!+!
(Mr. Miller has since apologized for his reference to the brutal dictator).
Yes, it was Mr. Miller who raised the Hitler comparison to Hogan’s statement, but in typical fashion he exaggerated/inflated the number of taxes from the Governor’s 40 by a factor of 20% to 48 … I guess to make a point. He went on to say that to his recollection that there were only four major tax hikes, and he is proud to have voted for each!
Well known Maryland economist Anirban Basu stated last January at a gathering of the state’s bankers that to his count there have been at least forty increases in taxes in fees enacted during the 8 years of the O’Malley administration.
So whether it’s only 4, 40 or 48; does it really matter? The fact is that, in what I must refer to as “iconically ironic,” it was the finding of a commission established by Mr. Miller and his delegation colleague Mike Busch (D- Anne Arundel County and Maryland’s Speaker of the House) that in its preliminary evaluation, the state’s:
… tax policies serve as a deterrent to businesses considering expanding in or relocating to the State and impede the economic viability of existing businesses.
The body was appointed by Miller and Busch in March of 2014 to investigate how the government of Maryland could improve the economic viability of its business climate.
Tagged the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission (MEDBCC), it consisted of members “from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and have had business involvements in many states, as well as abroad.”
The MEDBCC released the first of his findings last month and found a number of inconsistencies and management problems in how the state operates its economic development initiatives, as well as serious cultural issues in how government relates to the needs and requests made by business in general.
We covered these challenges in “Finding Economic Freedom for Maryland” a February 18, 2015 post to the MacRo Report Blog.
In reading the 129 page report, it is clear that much of what the governor outlined in his State of the State speech, he could have just as easily recited the finding within it and conveyed the same message that Mr. Miller found so offensive!
While the details of the commission’s investigation and recommendations for Maryland’s tax structure will come out later this year, the body outlined 32 recommendations on what the state government should start working on right away in the arena of economic development and business responsiveness.
In essence the Miller Busch commission recommends that these efforts should fall under a newly created structure headed by a Secretary of Commerce to bring leadership and accountability to the Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO).
It calls for state employees who deal with business and the public receive regular customer service training and the TEDCO establish a concierge service to assist Maryland startup businesses.
This is only one part of a multifaceted effort to change the culture of the state bureaucracy to one of “How can I help you?” from a “What do you want?”
Transportation infrastructure, third party review of permits and license disputes, as well as a deep review of regulatory policies and corporate income taxes all made the list.
Transforming the state’s marketing program, including its website to promote a more business and user friendly atmosphere for those looking to expand from within as well as those considering locating to the Maryland made up of a number of the recommendations.
The list included expanding and creating programs within the state’s college and university systems that will provide training, education and apprenticeship programs designed to address the needs of the business community.
The final recommendation called for the establishment of a task force to examine appropriateness of existing conflict of interest laws, procurement rules, and intellectual property policies that inhibit technology transfer.
So, I suggest that we just forget about any reference to Adolph Hitler when speaking of Governor Hogan’s somewhat negative outline of the State of the State. It seems that Mr. Miller’s own commission provided a summary of the how his leadership over the last quarter century as President of the Maryland Senate has contributed to a list of findings and recommendations that clearly show that the term limitless, and dictatorial legislative body has deteriorated true meaning of what we refer to as the “Freedom” within the “Free State”.
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The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades. He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital, as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, and currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Council to the Mayor of the City of Frederick … to name a few.