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Bryan Preston

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February 28, 2014 - 2:14 pm

Maryland’s House Republicans have been discussing getting rid of the state’s “rain tax.” That tax actually — I’m not making this up — taxes homeowners, businesses, even churches on their “impervious surfaces,” which means roofs and parking spaces, mostly.

The rain tax was supposed to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, but how the money it generates is actually spent is not all that linear in the state budget. As if to make the rain tax even more of a progressive comedy, it was to some extent forced on Maryland by the Obama Environmental Protection Agency. Not the particulars, but that the state had to tax its citizens to pay up for an EPA mandate. Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Democrats came up with the idea of taxing rain.

So after reading up on the effort to repeal that tax, and discussing Maryland issues overall with a friend of mine who still lives in the ironically nicknamed “Free State,” I got to wondering: Just how much money does Maryland spend in the Martin O’Malley era, anyway? He is a potential Democratic nominee for president, after all.

Before getting into the budget figures, let’s set the table. Maryland is a relatively small state. It ranks 42nd in total area, with about 10,000 square miles.

Maryland only has one city that can be classified as “large,” which is Baltimore, population about 621,000.

Maryland’s overall population is about 5.7 million, ranking it 19th among the 50 states.

So by these measures, Maryland is average to below average. It’s a nice place to live, the bay is beautiful and the seafood can’t be beat, but it’s small, it only has one urban center, and it does not have a massive population. It’s far from any international border, so it doesn’t really have any security issues to speak of other than its ports. The Ravens are nearly always competitive. Camden Yard is an excellent home for the Orioles, or to watch the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers when they come to town.

Maryland’s annual budget as of 2012 is $35,511,000,000. That’s $35.5 billion. But is it much when compared with another state?

Let’s go in the opposite direction and pick out a big state. I moved from Maryland to Texas a few years back. So let’s pick Texas. I realize that the following is a fairly crude comparison, a back-of-the-envelope effort.

Texas is a gigantic state. It has more than 266,000 square miles, making it the nation’s second-largest in terms of area. It’s the size of France. It has a long coast, a long international border with a fairly unstable neighbor, it has ports, and a whole lot of roads.

Texas has several large cities. Houston is America’s fifth largest city, with more than 6 million people in the greater Houston area. That’s more people in one region than all of Maryland. San Antonio ranks seventh in the country, with 1.3 million. These two cities by themselves have more people than Maryland. We haven’t even counted Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, El Paso and McAllen yet. All of those cities except McAllen are larger than Baltimore.

Overall, Texas ranks second nationally in population, with more than 25 million residents.

So, for the sake of convenience, let’s round things off. Texas is roughly 25 times the size of Maryland in land area, it has roughly 5 times the number of large urban centers, and it has roughly five times the number of people.

As of 2013 Texas’ biennial budget was about $194 billion. That’s a lot of money, but it also covers two years because Texas confines its legislature to one meeting every two years (a policy that I highly recommend other states and Congress adopt). Split the biennial budget in two, and Texas will spend about $97 billion per year.

If Texas spent money at the rate that Maryland spends money, it would not spend $97 billion.

If Texas spent money at the rate that Maryland spends money, it would spend $177 billion per year.

Texas, which is more than 25 times larger than Maryland, 5 times the population, a border state, with lots of urban centers and miles and miles of roads to maintain, would have to almost double its per capita spending to catch up with Maryland.

Having lived in both Maryland and Texas in the past few years, I have to be honest: Living in Texas is a lot better. For one thing, they don’t tax us for the rain. There’s no state income tax at all here. It’s hot in the summer, but it’s not cold in the winter. Jobs are plentiful here.

So, Gov. O’Malley, what on earth are you spending all that money on?

And when are you going to stop taxing the rain?

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
The idea of O'Malley getting the Dems nod is frightening.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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Mr. Preston;

Y'know...asking questions like this, it's a GOOD THING that you decamped for Texas.

People who ask these kinds of questions end up as "Bawlmer Fortune Cookies"...shot twice in the head and dumped in the railyards near Dundalk or Highlandtown with a rolled-up $100 bill stuffed in their nostril for the beat cop that finds 'em.

You DO NOT ASK who owns the new parking garage downtown and how it was financed.
Right Ms. Pelosi, (nee: D'Alesandro)?
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
The idea of O'Malley getting the Dems nod is frightening.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh I disagree entirely. Let this joker run on the record above!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
If/When voters reflect on the Leader of the “Free/Fee State” as being of potential Presidential Timber, they need to carefully reflect on the warnings in these excerpts from a recent article:

Per Donald Fry: A recent report from the Chicago-based Institute for Truth in Accounting noted that Maryland was among 13 state governments that spent more than the revenue they collected in fiscal 2012. The institute reports that Maryland has not collected enough revenue to cover its operating expenses in any year since 2008. Our state’s general fund spending has exceeded its actual revenue in all but two of the last years 13 years, according to the state’s Department of Legislative Services. Maryland’s fiscal challenges are not just at the state level, but at the local level as well. The Tax Foundation ranks average property taxes on homes in Maryland’s local jurisdictions the 11th highest in the nation

The United States, IMO needs a proven effective Executive with a deep bench. Texas with all its kudos, awards and enviable positions should well set the standard.

We can not afford another Leader, particularly at this point, with a record of irresponsibility.

A long suffering Maryland resident and conservative voter!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
In reply to what Maryland's Administration "Invests" money in - examples:
Increasing State employee's and teachers salaries (after assuring both members and non-members pay into the unions that help enhance campaign funding). A large hotel that has yet to meet expectations. In supplementing light rail expansions when federal moneys fall short. In "beautifications." In trying to fix our Maryland Version of an ACA Exchange. On enticements and support for its IA population and its support groups grants. On building a new prison after the scandal in a local jail. Dig further and its investments are likely to resemble those of our current federal administration.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh yes and buying private properties from "friends," that can't be developed in any case, at above market prices so they become public lands.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
See my reply to 20144, above.
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
In Texas we Pray for Rain!
24 weeks ago
24 weeks ago Link To Comment
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