Maryland fairs poorly in university solvency evaluation

Maryland ranks among the worst states when it comes to short-, medium- and long-term fiscal solvency, according to a review released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Gov. Martin O'Malley

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley during a Jan. 15, 2014 news conference explains what he called “the bad math of the past’ that resulted in structural budget deficitis for much of the last decade.

Maryland ranked no higher than 41 of 50 states in three categories meant to rate the liquidity of each state government, the ability to meet current expenses without running a deficit and the ability to meet all long-term costs, based on 2012 budget numbers. Continue reading

Miller predicts changes to O’Malley minimum wage bill

With Maryland’s top three Democrats on board, an increase in the state’s minimum wage may look like the stone cold lock of the 2014 General Assembly session but exactly how much the increase will be and other details may not be so certain.

Gov. Martin J. O'Malley

Gov. Martin O’Malley is making raising the minimum wage to $10.10 one of his top priorities for the 2014 General Assembly Session.

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley announced Monday that increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour was tops on his to-do list for his last 90-day session.

But Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller raised concerns about the proposal and predicted significant changes to the governor’s plan days O’Malley released his legislative agenda.

“It’s going to be a very tough sell—the bill as it is now,” Miller said last week. “I’m telling you, it’s going to be a very tough sell.” Continue reading

Taxing weed: Colorado’s estimates and Maryland’s proposal

The legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana in Colorado could be an indicator of how Maryland’s treasury may or may not benefit should a similar law pass in the coming 2014 General Assembly session.

weedmoneyDel. Curt Anderson and Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin was expected to introduce legislation to legalize, regulate and tax the sale of cannabis in Maryland [subscriber access] in the coming 90-day session. The expectation is that the state would benefit to the tune of $100 million or so in new tax revenue at a time when Maryland’s coffers still bear a striking resemblance to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards, according to some legislators. Continue reading

Eye on Annapolis on Inside Maryland Politics

How will the debate on increasing the minimum wage play out in Annapolis?

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

C. Fraser Smith, host of Inside Maryland Politics on WYPR, talks about the issue with me based on a story written as part of the Annapolis Summit series. Continue reading

McDonough calls for training wage

As the Maryland General Assembly prepares to return to Annapolis and discuss the issue of minimum wage, one legislator said he would like to see the state create a second, lower tier of wages for entry-level workers.

Del. Pat McDonough

Del. Pat McDonough

Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, said he plans to introduce a bill creating a training wage for new employees at companies of 100 workers or less. Continue reading

Steiner talks minimum wage and the 2014 General Assembly session

As legislators return to Annapolis, some will be looking to bump the pay of those who make minimum wage in Maryland.

Annapolis Summit logoMarc Steiner takes a look at the issue in a podcast that is part of his lead-up to his 11th annual Annapolis Summit show on Jan. 8. The radio host speaks with Dels. Mary Washington and Andrew Serafini about the minimum wage issue. Continue reading

Minimum wage increase: ‘The sky will not fall’

Annapolis Summit logoThe lead legislative sponsor of a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage said concerns about the possible increase on businesses is, for the most part, unwarranted.

“They’re still going to be in operation and they’re still going to be hiring people,” said Del. Aisha Braveboy, a Prince George’s County Democrat. “What it will impact is their bottom line.” Continue reading

Inside Maryland Politics: The Unemployment Insurance Tax Drop

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

In case you missed it this morning, I joined Fraser Smith, senior news analyst for WYPR, on Inside Maryland Politics to discuss the expected decrease in the state’s unemployment insurance tax. Continue reading

Clinch leaving University of Baltimore

Richard Clinch, the director of economic research at the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute, is resigning effective Aug. 1, he said Wednesday.

Clinch will take a similar job at Batelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus, Ohio-based firm that also has an office in Aberdeen.

Batelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers services for government and commercial customers in the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries, the company’s website said.

Clinch has often appeared in Daily Record stories, commenting on economic development, federal labor data and tax policy issues in Maryland.

The economist — who consults for a number of firms — said less than 20 percent of his research had been Maryland-based in recent years. He’ll stay based in the state, though, work from home for Batelle.

Eye Opener: Congress approves ‘fiscal cliff’ deal

The U.S. Capitol Building. (Photo: Elliot P.)

The U.S. House of Representatives late on New Year’s Day approved a Senate plan to avoid the worst effects of the “fiscal cliff,” a potentially devastating package of tax increases and spending cuts that would have struck Maryland particularly hard.

But while some taxes will not increase on Americans earning less than $450,000 a year, the bipartisan deal only delays spending cut negotiations, allowing the next Congress to deal with that issue and the ballooning national date before a late February deadline.

The former chairmen of President Barack Obama’s debt commission were dismayed by inaction on that front. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Democrat Erskine Bowles, Obama’s former chief of staff, said in a joint statement that the deal was a “missed opportunity.”

The men had established the bipartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt, which in Maryland included former members of the administrations of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“Our leaders must now have the courage to reform our tax code and entitlement programs such that we stabilize our debt and put it on a downward path as a percent of the economy … It is now more critical than ever that policymakers return to negotiations that will build on the terms of this agreement and the spending cuts,” the statement said.

“These future  negotiations will need to make the far more difficult reforms that bring spending further under control, make our entitlement programs sustainable and solvent, and reform our tax code to both promote growth and produce revenue.

“We take some encouragement from the statements by the President and leaders in Congress that they recognize more work needs to be done.  In order to reach an agreement, it will be absolutely necessary for both sides to move beyond their comfort zone and reach a principled agreement on a comprehensive plan which puts the debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy.”