Governor Larry Hogan has refused to spend $25.1 million that the General Assembly allocated toward education. Apparently, this is because he’s piqued that the legislature did not give the discretion on how to spend the money.
Among the $25.1 million is $6.1 million that would have gone to fixing aging schools. Governor Hypocrite has made a cause célèbre of bringing air conditioning more quickly to Baltimore schools but is uninterested in upgrades when he’s not at the center of headlines or they were the legislature’s idea.
An additional $19 million would have helped local school systems cover the cost of employee pensions, allowing them to free up the money to improve education. Hogan said no.
Instead, Hogan is giving $20 million to Northrup Grumman in a huge dollop of corporate welfare. Avowedly, this bribe to Northrup Grumman is to “retain” 10,000 new jobs in Maryland. Except that the fine print of the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) report reveals that NG is not required to create a single job to get the money.
Bad idea for so many reasons beyond the Trumpian “believe me” approach. First, Northrup Grumman won’t release the taxes it pays to the State, so we don’t even know the benefits. Does NG pay any taxes to the Maryland? Apparently, “don’t ask, don’t tell” has finally found a new home at NG.
Second, unlike some corporations, Northrup Grumman can’t easily move. It has a complex, heavy plant that would be very expensive to rebuild or relocate. The jobs require high skill workers who aren’t going to move or be replaced if NG up and moves to low tax Kansas or Louisiana. Most important, they do a lot of secret work for the federal government and it is very helpful to be near DC.
Third, and perhaps worst of all, the General Assembly already gave Northrup Grumman a $37.5 million tax credit in the past session with the Governor’s enthusiastic backing. So the total amount that NG is receiving at the trough in
$62.5 $57.5 million. Yet Hogan won’t release $25 million more appropriated to the schools.
Finally, corporate welfare is a bad idea that both Democrats and Republicans should loathe. Democrats should dislike it because its a giveaway to the wealthy. Republicans should hate it even more, as another government expenditure and market-distorting industrial policy. Businesses should compete on a level playing field.
Maryland is never going to compete for business as the cheapest destination. Here’s a novel idea for Gov. Hogan’s consideration: let’s continue to invest in education so that our citizens remain the best prepared and most competitive in the nation, so we can attract good jobs on our merits rather than cash.