My opponent throws around his time on the Howard County Spending Affordability Committee as vast experience that has prepared him well for the role he is seeking. In fact, the Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times point to this one year of experience on the committee as the reason he received their endorsement. His single year in 2001 clearly wasn’t enough. It is frustrating on the other side when you are the only one talking about fiscal discipline. Then my opponent sends out negative mailers stating: “What will Kevin cut? Education?” Anyone that has been following my campaign knows how I feel about education. It has changed my life for the better and I believe wholeheartedly in the late Senator Bob Kittleman’s famous quote, “Education is the great equalizer”.
If my opponents experience is so significant why does he not talk about the tough decisions he made or the challenges we face? It’s because he is running for election and telling everyone he sees what they want to hear. When a political candidate racks up every union endorsement it has to make you wonder.
So let’s talk about the challenges and why fiscal discipline and controlling future spending is so important. The County has made some promises to its employee’s about their retirement. If government makes a commitment it must honor that commitment and plan accordingly. The problem is we are not budgeting for those promises. Here is a direct quote from the most recent Fiscal Year 2015 report from the Howard County Spending Affordability Committee (good luck finding it on the website):
“…the county is required by accounting rules to disclose the obligation to pay future retiree costs. According to the latest valuation from the actuaries, the county, College and Department of Education have a total OPEB liability of $717.2 million but are funded at only about $33.0 million. While the county should be paying $73.8 million per year as its annual required contribution (ARC), the county and the Board of Education pay only the current cost portion of the program at about $17 million a year.”
I hope you saw that…a $700 million dollar liability. This is on top of the $200 million we need to invest in school infrastructure just to keep pace with development that has already taken place and is overcrowding our schools.
The committee goes on to say:
“The committee members are very concerned about the operating expenses facing the county. Among the most critical are the county’s OPEB liability, growing health care costs, and the level of education funding. Committee members share the opinion that county officials should be mindful of these significant expenses and should make pragmatic future spending projections. In addition, county leaders need to seek opportunities in every area to find efficiencies that achieve reduced costs or increased net revenues in both the short and long term.”
Now let’s get back to experience. For over five years I conducted oversight of billion dollar budgets travelling the world from Libya to Saudi Arabia, to Venezuela. I have seen the economic intelligence reports that show the challenges we face operating in a global economy. I currently work for a global company and I know exactly the impact that high taxes have on businesses and individuals. If you don’t think this global view is significant to our interests here at home you might want to do some research. With Howard County taxes already through the roof, how are we going to plan for the 1 BILLION DOLLARS needed? Is Jon going to raise taxes? At the latest League of Women Voters debate, Jon said we are already maxed out on taxes – we are taxing our citizens at the highest possible rate. I know how to do critical oversight of budgets while making sure our Country is still protected from overseas threats. This is real experience with real implications. I know that the biggest threat we face is making sure we do not overextend on our financial promises ultimately breaking the back of the middle and lower income class and seniors who are living on fixed incomes.
The time has come to have a real, honest, and direct conversation with each other in this County so we can prepare for our future. We CAN NOT leave our kids with these broken promises. If you elect me, I will roll up my sleeves, use my experience, and tackle these issues head on. It is my hope you reward the politician who is being direct and honest with you. I want to serve you and future generations and I am asking for your vote on November 4th.