As you may have heard, Governor O'Malley has called yet another special session for August 9th, this one to consider expanding gaming in Maryland. My fellow Delegates and I have not had the opportunity to see the proposal in bill form but it seems likely that it will include a sixth casino location in Prince George's County and allow for table games. Other possibilities include cutting taxes on the casino owners to offset their losses from allowing another location or putting a commission in charge of setting tax rates for casinos in the future - a dangerous precedent.
I am inclined to oppose expanded gambling for a number of reasons. I will reserve final judgment until I see the actual bill. It's unfortunate that legislators and the public will have almost no advance ability to see this very complex proposal before the Session starts. I could have possibly supported expanded gaming if it was in exchange for reducing the tax burden on our citizens. Unfortunately, Governor O'Malley's administration has used gambling to simply continue unsustainable increases in spending while still hiking all manner of taxes and "fees" that affect every person in Maryland.
Many people have asked me about the idea of boycotting this unnecessary special session. After a lot of consideration, I feel I need to be there. It was first reported that this session would only address gaming. Now, it appears that the General Assembly will take up other legislation including dealing with the recent court ruling on pit bulls and possibly even an attempt to change gun laws.
What this Special Session ought to be focused on is changing state policies that are harming our ability to create private sector jobs. The Washington Times recently reported that Maryland was the worst among the nation for job loss in the first six months of 2012. Venture capital in our state has plummeted to its lowest levels in sixteen years.
I remember the jobs, jobs, jobs rhetoric from Governor O’Malley not too long ago. Well, where are they? Since my term began in 2011 he has proposed some stop-gap measures, using government spending to try to stimulate the state’s economy. It’s largely failed.
I have been critical of the Governor’s lack of a plan during and have worked with fellow Delegates in both parties to propose long-term solutions that promote a friendlier business climate. It’s fallen on deaf ears. Instead, an onslaught of taxes and fees, along with more spending in a Special Session this May have made things worse. Now we are looking at the exact scenario that Republicans have warned about. There is an exodus of residents leaving Maryland and with them businesses and investment too.
Maryland’s Democratic leaders, who run the state, must do more than just talk about jobs, they must remove the obstacles of higher taxes, restrictive regulations and “government does it best”. By ignoring the real problem and insisting on temporary fixes, we’re not choosing progress, we’re gambling with our future.
This letter to the editor was submitted by State Delegate Justin Ready. If you want to submit a letter to the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.