By Len Lazarick
A lot of the reporters wanted to talk about guns at Tuesday’s roundtable with Gov. Martin O’Malley, and the governor did speak in general terms about the need for more gun control and mental health services. But what O’Malley really wanted to talk about was how his administration measured up to the 15 broad goals that are tracked by the governor’s “delivery unit,” modeled on a system developed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
As outlined in a 26-page PowerPoint, Maryland did show broad progress on most of the goals since O’Malley took office, and some of the targets had already been met .
Student achievement was up, childhood hunger was down and infant mortality had been reduced. Violent crimes had declined by about 25%, as had violence against women and children. Measures of the health of the Chesapeake Bay were progressing. More health records were being shared electronically and 25% more patients had access to state-funded substance abuse service.
Need to do better on energy and transportation
The “two areas where we need to do better,” O’Malley said, are energy and transportation. Energy use per capita had declined by 5%, but that was likely due to the recession, and it was not on target to be down by 15% in 2015. The goal of 25% renewable energy by 2022 was also lagging. And there was no way the goal to double transit ridership by the end of 2020 could be reached without a massive infusion of money for projects like the Purple Line in the D.C. suburbs and the Red Line in Baltimore City.
“We get what we pay for,” O’Malley said. The legislature needed “to find the will to make the investment.”
Late in this year’s session, O’Malley proposed a sales tax on gasoline, but it went nowhere. Tuesday, he said the idea of raising the sales tax by a penny to fund transportation needs had some merit.
Any tax increase for the transportation trust fund is considered unlikely to pass without a strong commitment to a “lockbox” preventing use of the money for other programs. But Chief of Staff Matt Gallagher said it was “a myth” that money taken from the transportation trust fund for other programs hadn’t been repaid.
That was true for most of the transportation money except the $700 million in highway user revenues designated for counties and municipalities. Gallagher said they are “considered a category of local aid” and the money was taken to avoid cuts in other state aid to localities. “The overarching goal was protect education aid,” Gallagher said.
Jobs numbers disputed
One of the most surprising charts in O’Malley’s presentation was on page 20 showing that Maryland in the past year has grown jobs by 1.3% compared to .9% for Virginia, and .84% for Pennsylvania.
Change Maryland, chaired by former Ehrlich administration appointments chief Larry Hogan, has accused the O’Malley administration of cherry-picking jobs data. “We don’t make up numbers like Larry Hogan does,” the governor said.
Sure enough, shown O’Malley’s PowerPoint, Hogan responded, “The administration’s self-congratulatory review session put out data that contains omissions, outright falsehoods and is cherry-picked.”
Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm O’Malley’s graph for the 12 months ending in October. Hogan said O’Malley chose the “trough month” of February 2010 to tout the jobs that have been added.
BLS numbers show February 2010 was the low point for jobs in the recession nationally and in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Since February 2010, Maryland employment has gone up about 4%, Virginia about 3.8% and Pennsylvania 3.1%.
Hogan points out that Maryland’s unemployment rate is still a full point higher than Virginia’s, and while foreclosures may be down, Maryland still has the highest rate of mortgage foreclosures in the region.
“Need to do better on energy and transportation
The “two areas where we need to do better,” O’Malley said, are energy
and transportation. Energy use per capita had declined by 5%, but that
was likely due to the recession, and it was not on target to be down by
15% in 2015. The goal of 25% renewable energy by 2022 was also lagging”
Isn’t this “Renewable Energy” effort based on the debunked “Anthropomorphic Global Warming,” “Climate Change,” Weather Disruption schemes? Temperatures haven’t gone up in more than 10 years, Climate Change has been with us at least since an ice age killed the dinosaurs and a warming period brought glaciers down over northern Illinois … haven’t these scams been discredited? In that plants need carbon for photosynthesis and humans need oxygen for survival … what would humanity and creatures do without their oxygen?
With trillions of federal debt and billions of State debt, I would suggest that the Nation and States need to let the private sector pursue “energy,” less government stimulation and funding and spend their available dollars on strengthening our present energy sources … so that our businesses and citizens have less expensive, more reliable energy available to them!
With trillions in national debt and billions in state debt, we need a government owned banking system, then we would pay interest to ourselves.
If Maryland owned a state-charted bank, operated like any ordinary bank, lending money to state residents and to itself and local governments, using all revenues as reserve deposits and following reserve lending guidelines of nine dollars of loans to every one dollar of reserves, the state would have more than five times its current revenue, without increasing taxes or debt.
The powerpoint presentation is a non-technical PR document, designed to give the appearance of progress. The site http://www.goals.maryland.gov is a muddle. Good performance measurement requires measuring the best relevant parameters starting with Inputs (taxpayer resources), and working logically to outputs and outcomes; each having key sub-components. The aforementioned website is not organized to walk through key state performance measures in any logical way.
I looked at one performance measure (Health IT) to get an idea of what is being measured and how it is reported. O’Malley takes credit for having “Delivered” on this performance measure. There is no reporting of the inputs; I can’t even determine how much money comes from the Feds versus State and I can’t get a sense of how much money might be recurring such as via ObamaCare and how much may be winding down such as ARRA/Stimulus. The outputs include Acute-Care Hospitals with live VPN connections, said to be 100%; and CRISP, which is a precursor to a Statewide Health-Information Exchange. The VPN connections penetrate emergency rooms at 24 hospitals and have almost no functional value unless the VPN pathways connect directly to patient GPs and their Specialists, and no meaningful progress has been made in that realm. The best penetration involves Johns Hopkins pathways where there is good progress (however, Hopkins progress has not been funded directly with State money, so O’Malley can’t take credit.) Otherwise, VPN’s functional progress is poor and the results to date are either insignificant or the state cannot take credit. I looked at CRISP’s portal and it is not clear what value has been created. The site is more like a shell with characteristics similar to a Potemkin village. There is absolutely no value in the way of conveying personal health data to patients.
O’Malley has not measured progress on Health IT using objective performance measures. Worse, he gives himself a “Delivered” rating. He should not be grading himself. His performance measures need to be rebuilt in a logical way to convey meaningful technical results and they then must be peer-reviewed by an outside body who is not paid by the State. Until then, O’Malley’s performance measures convey no measurable objective value to taxpayers and are a waste of taxpayer resources.
O’Malley’s answer to any & every issue? Raise more revenue (aka taxes). Gotta love his retort “We get what we pay for” & in many cases, WE the people pay without getting what our hard earned taxes have paid for yet his hand is always out asking for more!
AMEN ! Everybody who voted for O’Malley, directly or not by voting, deserves being taxed more & more and getting less & less in return ! But, as long as he looks good on TV and we have the distraction of pro football, especially the Ravens, along with a local news media focused on the trivial… As well as the “low information” ( willfully ignorant ) voter… I don’t have any hope in things changing for the better…
How deep into 2013 will it be when Babs announces her retirement so father marty can appoint himself to the remainder of her term?
IMHO with the death of Innoye, Babs moves to the top of the heap & should finally get a chairmanship. I don’t think barring a major health issue (like being on life support) that she’d pass that up & give away her seat to Martin.
You could be right. I was thinking that the other way would get marty a little DC time before he runs for president.