VIDEO: Governor's Race Close Up: Martin O'Malley (Part 3 of 4)
The governor answers questions from Patch.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This video is the third of four we are posting before the Nov. 2 General Election. Both Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and his Republican rival, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., agreed to sit down to answer questions from Patch readers, but Ehrlich had to cancel. That's why the quality of the two videos differs. We did our best to reschedule with Ehrlich but ultimately had to settle for a less intimate setting.
Claim: "The tax increases were necessary because Bob Ehrlich left a bigger deficit than any governor in history after increasing spending by more than any governor in history over a four-year period."
Fact: Maryland's projected deficit was estimated to reach $1.7 billion by O'Malley's second year in office, according to the Department of Legislative Services. While it may have been true that it was the largest projected deficit in the state's history, it's hardly all the former governor's fault.
Claim: "Three of the four budgets he (former Gov. Ehrlich) signed into law blew right by spending affordability limits."
Fact: In relatively flush economic times, the former governor's budgets did exceed spending affordability limits.
Claim: "We had the 42nd lowest sales in the country and so we raised it by one penny, 5 cents to 6 cents. Our sales tax now ranks about 32nd in the country."
Fact: According to the Sales Tax Clearinghouse, after the increase Maryland currently ranks roughly in the middle of the 50 states with its 6 percent state sales tax.
Claim: "We offset the impact of that by lowering income taxes for 85 percent of Maryland families."
Fact: In 2007, O'Malley lowered tax rates for lower and middle-income filers, with the Department of Legislative Services estimating that 41 percent of filers now pay a lower rate. Whether or not those filers reflect 85 percent of Maryland families is not clear.
Claim: "We also raised our corporate income tax rate by 1 percent…which was helpful in our going four years in a row without increasing college tuition."
Fact: College tuition rates were not increased over the past four years.
Claim: "He (former Gov. Ehrlich) was the only governor since 1982 to increase the state's portion's of the property tax and he jacked up college tuition by 40 percent."
Fact: Former Gov. Ehrlich did not raise state income, sales or corporate tax rates, but he did vote to increase the state's portion of the property tax, as TBD.com explains here.
He has defended college tuition increases during his tenure, saying they were requested by the University System of Maryland to maintain educational quality.
Claim: "…we're so proud of the fact we could come together and maintain our AAA bond rating, one of only eight states to do it."
Claim: "We have one of the lower rates of unemployment in the country. I think Virginia is 7.1 percent and ours is 7.3 percent of late. So far, this year we are creating jobs faster than our neighbors in Virginia."
Fact: The unemployment numbers are correct and Maryland has had a positive rate of job creation in 2010, ranking slightly ahead of Virginia.
Claim: "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce named us one of the top two states in innovation and entrepreneurship."
Fact: True. That ranking came out in May.
Claim: "The Milken Institute moved our ranking up from fourth place to second place in the nation, in terms of life science and bio-tech."
Fact: In 2008, the Milken Institute ranked Maryland second in its State Technology and Science Index, moving up from fourth place in 2004. It should be noted, former Gov. Ehrlich supported the bio-tech industry with tax credits and signed state stem cell research funding into law.