Financial Planning | Legislative / Regulatory | Technology & Social Media

Budget surplus in Maryland? Believe it.

Moneey MACPA member Skip Coale shared an interesting nugget with his friends on Facebook recently.

It was a Baltimore Business Journal report that claimed Maryland could end fiscal 2010 with a $300 million budget surplus, thanks to tax revenue that exceeded expectations.

"It’s not clear yet which state taxes contributed to the revenue growth," the BBJ's Scott Dance writes. "Joseph Shapiro, spokesman for Comptroller Peter Franchot, confirmed there is an expected surplus 'in the ballpark' of $300 million. But more detailed budget numbers won’t be available until state accountants close the books on fiscal 2010."

Still, in posting the BBJ link on Facebook, Skip asks wisely, "Now how will this play in the election?"

The election he refers to, of course, is Maryland's 2010 gubernatorial election, and it didn't take long for Skip to get his answer. Consider this passage from a recent WBAL online article:

A (Gov. Martin O'Malley) spokesman said, "(The surplus is) a sign the economy and jobs are going in the right direction."

The Robert Ehrlich campaign told 11 News, "It's odd and almost funny that this comes out now after analysts have agreed we're looking at a $2 billion deficit next year. Political timing makes strange math."

Let the political games begin.

Regardless of who wins the election, the surplus likely won't change Maryland's immediate fiscal landscape much. There's still a pretty hefty gap to fill, and everyone is wondering where the money is going to come from. In his fiscal 2011 budget, O'Malley is trying to do so mainly through spending cuts, but anxiety about tax increases -- particularly sales taxes on accounting, tax and consulting services -- is running high amount CPAs and other professionals.

All the more reason to register now for CPA Day in Annapolis on Jan. 19. More than ever, we're going to need your help to protect the profession and the folks that CPAs serve.

On a side note, happy Shop Maryland Week! From Aug. 8-15, there are no state sales taxes on purchases of $100 or less on clothing or shoes. No definitive word on what impact this will have on Maryland's finances, but heck, I could use a new pair of jeans.

Go treat yourself to something nice, then tell us: How would you fix Maryland's budget?


Bill Sheridan