Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tough Choices and Truth in Budgets

(cross-posted at The Old Line.)

Martin O'Malley says "tough choices" will have to be made with the budget next year, but declines to elaborate. Whether that means he'll be giving up on some of his spending plans or try to enact new taxes, such as slot machines, is unclear.

This is probably as good a time as any to mention the Progressive States Network's big report on policies for state legislatures. There's a lot of good stuff there, especially on smart growth, balancing work and family, and election reform. The section on tax and budget policy is germane here:
A prime strategy should be promoting truth in budget reforms that track what the tax burden is for different income groups, the extent of corporate loopholes and other tax giveaways, and which companies receive state economic development money and government contracts. Such reforms give the public the tools for a more robust understanding of what really goes on with state money. And once special deals for corporate interests are exposed, it becomes easier to enact reforms that save taxpayers money and frees up resources for other needed state programs.
While Maryland likely won't see a TABOR initiative any time soon, we ought to have more accessible information on taxes in the state; I'm thinking of a one-stop-shop website like the Maryland Voter Information Clearinghouse that would easily and clearly show who's paying, and who's getting paid. Perhaps Comptroller-elect Peter Franchot would be interested in expanding the Comptroller's website into something other than a glorified tax preparation site?

UPDATE: It turns out there is information on the Maryland tax system, but it's a PDF file, and doesn't really say anything about government contracts and subsidies (which would, after all, concern the disbursement of tax money, rather than its collection). Maybe I'm just spoiled on Wikipedia, but this is 2006, people! Information on something as important as taxes and the budget should be as accessible as possible!

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