The Second Most Important Vote You Will Cast In November 2014
The November 4, 2014 election will be one of the most important in Maryland’s history. Its results will not only determine our State’s course over the next four years, but it will set in place programs and an economic environment that will be difficult to reverse. We will choose between the continuation of policies that have stifled economic growth and increased our dependency on the Federal Government, or growing sustainable private sector jobs that will ensure future prosperity. A key factor in choosing which path we will take will depend upon who occupies the Office of Maryland State Comptroller.
We know that the Comptroller collects our taxes, but other crucial functions are almost invisible. The Office of Comptroller has at least eighteen statutory functions, and it touches every aspect of the State’s finances. The Comptroller serves on the Board of Revenue Estimates (which is crucial to the budget process), the Board of Public Works (which oversees State spending), and the Retirement and Pension Board (which acts as stewards to our State employees’ post employment benefits).
This broad responsibility means that the Comptroller is the State’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and serves as a Constitutional Officer that is not subservient to either the Governor, or the Legislature. The Comptroller is responsible to Maryland’s citizens as the steward of their State’s financial resources. While the Governor, as Maryland’s Chief Executive officer, is clearly the most important vote in the general election; your vote for Comptroller is the second most important that you will cast.
Independent analyses have decried the funding trickery that was used to “balance” annual budgets, and self-inflicted ”structural deficits”. These unjustified shortfalls have resulted in 25% increases in taxes, fees and penalties increase, totalling $9 billion (B) in the last 7 years . The recent $243,000 loan by the Board of Public Works (BPW) to remodel a successful Towson, MD sports bar has raised serious questions about the BPW’s financial stewardship. Also according to the latest data, Maryland has underfunded our State retirement system and other post employment benefits by approximately $40 B. This pension shortfall is the result of deliberate long-term underfunding, and poor management. As the Vice Chair for the Pension Fund Board, the incumbent Comptroller is failing his duties as a fiduciary for our State employees, retirees and taxpayers.
A vigilant and capable Comptroller will be crucial in rectifying these significant financial problems. Our Comptroller needs to possess significant financial experience. Ideally, this experience will have been as a CFO in both the public and private sectors. The Comptroller must be knowledgeable in accounting, acquisition, information technology, auditing, treasury, investments and pensions. When you vote on November 4, 2014 please remember that your vote for Maryland’s next Comptroller is crucial to our financial well-being. It is the second most important vote that you will cast!