Judging by the results of the recent election, Wicomico County voters should be enthused about some changes coming down the pike. However, those changes will required some thought and planning on the part of incoming County Executive Bob Culver, the incoming (and outgoing) County Council’s, and Wicomico’s legislative delegation.
Maryland Governor-elect Larry Hogan ran (and was elected) on three primary issues:
- Maryland is OVER-TAXED.
- Maryland is OVER-REGULATED.
- Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was incompetent.
If Maryland is over-taxed (and most of seem to agree), there are only two things that Hogan can do:
- Cut Spending while keeping the current tax rates as is.
- Cut Spending MORE and ask the General Assembly to cut tax rates.
Obviously, Wicomico voters (as well as voters from around the Once Free State) are looking for tax cuts. There are just a few problems; to cut taxes Hogan will have to drastically cut spending. He already faces a projected $593 million shortfall courtesy of outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley. As governor, Hogan has a great deal of influence over the spending side of the budget. He needs the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to cut taxes.
Hogan has already met with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the mayor has stated that they must reconsider Baltimore’s “reliance on state aid”. All localities need to do the same. However, if you are like Wicomico County the hit could be hard.
For local officials, this will probably mean severe cuts to their respective budgets. Wicomico County could be one of the worst hit by Hogan’s expected spending cuts. Wicomico County pays just over 24% for its schools. Compare that to over 35% in Dorchester and almost 76% in Worcester. The state requires Wicomico to meet Maintenance of Effort (MOE) each year.
Incoming Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver needs to be prepared for a revenue shortfall. How much is anyone’s guess.