Friday, January 20, 2012

Martin O'Malley Wants Counties To Stick It To Teachers

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is never one to shy away from passing the buck to someone else. You've seen his press conferences. Roll-up your sleeves and pass the buck. It looks so elegant.

In his struggle to maintain the ever-increasing state spending with less and less revenue to support it, he has to reach into his bag of tricks to find new ways to satiate his addiction. His latest trick is a true wolf in sheep's clothing. In one sentence O'Malley claims he is only nominally increasing the budget this year. He claims he's made billions of dollars in cuts, yet the budget numbers are bigger. If you were educated in Baltimore City's public schools, you probably wouldn't question that. But fortunately for you - you're smarter than that and you deserve better, right?

So in one sentence he is claiming that he's cutting state spending, yet in the next sentence he is demanding the transfer of millions of dollars in mandatory spending to cover state teachers' pensions onto the county governments. You have to admit it's fairly clever. Most people are only going to look at the bottom line. If you shift mandatory spending for one item entirely off of your balance sheet, that gives you that much more spending that you can plug in without much visibility. And tax payers won't even realize how much more they're paying in taxes until we're way into this.

The counties, on the other hand, boy are they getting it in the arse. If the counties are forced into spending millions of dollars per year to cover pension payments that they didn't cover previously, they are forced to into a position of increasing county taxes. Then they (the counties) look like the bad guy. And Martin O'Malley comes out looking like a petunia. Fortunately for this guy, I have a good nose and this flower smells like poop!

But all of this isn't the best part. In Martin O'Malley's press conference this week where he released the details of his budget for 2012, he defended his request to push pension costs onto the county because a) the counties are the ones negotiating the pension contracts (that part makes sense to me) and b) he said that this will give the counties the impetus to negotiate tougher with the teachers' unions to push for lesser terms.

Wow. Martin O'Malley, the big defender of the teachers and the proponent of education, all children can succeed, teachers and children are our future, etc..., he's basically saying that teachers' pensions are too high and the counties need to tighten the screws on them. Pass the buck. I'm not dealing with this. Being tough with the teachers will hurt my reputation. Screw the counties.

So be weary of the smoke and mirrors in Annapolis. Because what you don't know will hurt you. Unroll your sleeves and be afraid. Be very afraid.

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