Thursday, January 17, 2013

O'Malley's Coup

No, that's not a legend from the American Revolution about a tavern owner who got 30 redcoats drunk and handed them over to George Washington, who then beheaded them.

It's the fact that Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, one of the most liberal in the country, handed in a budget proposal yesterday that did tons of stuff without raising taxes or, even -- get this -- any fees.

That's fairly unprecedented for the governor:

He has raised taxes and fees 24 times since taking office in 2007, to the tune of $2.4 billion.

Last year, O'Malley raised income taxes on residents earning at least $100,000 after a contentious General Assembly special session.

Even more surprising?

He did all that while increasing spending "in all of its budgets by nearly 5%", according to the Washington Examiner.

So what's the secret sauce?

Well, if you remember, the state passed yet another gambling measure in November which will bring in even more revenue, the economy is improving in the state, and federal health care money is flowing in like that chocolate lake in Willy Wonka's factory.

Even better for O'Malley?

O’Malley also proposed new spending and tax credits that could burnish his credentials with key constituencies if he runs for national office after his second term ends next year. He proposed increased funding for cancer research, green energy projects and environmental initiatives.

And he pitched tax credits for cybersecurity and biotechnology jobs and tax breaks to lure more film production to the state.

Really, O'Malley's main pitch in a '16 primary has always been on social issues. But if he can add an economic component -- then bully for him.