While the 2012 election is still fresh in the memory of many, career politician like Martin O’Malley are already laying the framework for higher office by traveling to early primary states such as South Carolina. Given this fact, it is of increasing importance to compare O’Malley’s record to that of his counterpart in the Palmetto State, Nikki Haley. A close examination of the facts shows just how out of touch O’Malley is with the priorities of South Carolinians.

Tax Relief/Tax Reform:

Governor Haley has signed millions of dollars of tax relief into law, helping to make South Carolina a more business-friendly climate. In addition, Governor Haley has also aggressively pursued tax reform on numerous instances. 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.

Her liberal counterpart, Martin O’Malley, has had quite the opposite record when it comes to fiscal issues. He 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. But the tax and spend liberal is not done yet. He most recently proposed an $830 million dollar gas tax hike ($3.4 billion over 5 years).

Pension Reform/State Employees:

Gov. 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.

On the other hand, 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 above, 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.