Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will keynote a Democrat Party conference this weekend in Charleston, in the midst of his state legislature’s 90-day session. The trip to South Carolina further fuels the narrative that he’s running for his party’s nomination for 2016. The visit also provides an opportunity to briefly compare the northern governor’s record to that of Governor Nikki Haley’s.
On Tax Reform/Relief:
Governor Haley: signed millions of dollars of tax relief into law, helping make South Carolina a more business-friendly state. She also pursued tax reform on a number of occasions. Most recently, as ATR noted, Haley used her State of the State address to call for eliminating the state’s top income tax bracket. Haley has also said that she would like to see the state’s corporate and individual income taxes phased out and eventually eliminated.
Governor O’Malley: has consistently straddled taxpayers in the Old Line state with higher bills and fees. In fact, in an exhaustive examination, ATR found that O’Malley raised taxes and fees a whopping 19 times, accounting for $2.2 billion dollars. O’Malley has raised taxes on everything from alcohol to smokeless tobacco to the infamous “millionaires tax”, which seems to have caused a mass exodus of the state’s most successful individuals. He most recently proposed an $830 million dollar gas tax hike ($3.4 billion over 5 years).
Pension Reform/State Employees:
Governor Haley: has been a stalwart when it comes to saving taxpayer dollars. Recently, she created a stir among state bureaucrats when she asked them to contribute a small amount more for their taxpayer-funded benefits. Furthermore, in the previous legislative session, the Governor signed a sweeping pension reform bill into law which, according to Moody’s Investor Service, would reduce the state’s long term unfunded pension liability by over $2 billion dollars.
Governor O’Malley: has presided over a system in Maryland which veers the state in the direction of a fiscal train wreck. According to a report by the Pew Center on the States, Maryland’s unfunded pension liability has increased from $11 billion to around $19 billion in the past few years, rendering any previous attempts at pension reform obsolete. The fund’s assets will cover only 65% of its obligations. In spite of this, O’Malley has presided over a retirement fund that pays exuberant fees to Wall Street investors (with questionable return) at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.
Given the facts, one can see that the differences between the governors are more than just regional. Gov. Haley has consistently put the taxpayers first, whereas O’Malley has consistently viewed their interest as his lowest priority, using their hard earned dollars to fund higher and higher spending.