Governors from across the nation -- and the political spectrum -- came together this past weekend, and there was one thing we all could agree on: Congress must take action to stop the arbitrary, job-killing cuts in the "sequester" before they take effect.
We also all agree that we must cut federal spending. That means eliminating waste, focusing on core priorities, and only investing in things that work.
Making government more efficient and more effective need not be a partisan issue. But economics and decades of history tell us we cannot simply cut our way to greater prosperity. We need a balanced approach of cuts, revenues, and modern investments.
This approach works -- and in Maryland it's allowed us to deliver results for middle class families. In 2007, our State was facing a $1.7 billion structural deficit. And we didn't know it at the time, but the national recession that was about to hit would make things even worse. So to restore fiscal responsibility and move our State forward, we made cuts -- in fact we cut more state spending than any administration in modern Maryland history. But we balanced those cuts with (1) strategic reforms to make government more efficient and effective; (2) responsible choices on revenues; and (3) targeted investments in core priorities like job creation, public schools, and affordable college.
Our better choices allowed us to deliver better results. In addition to being on the verge of eliminating our structural deficit, we're recovering jobs at the fastest rate in our region, the College Board says that we're doing more than any other state in America to hold down the cost of college, and -- according to Education Week magazine -- we've built the #1 best public schools in America for an unprecedented five years in a row. Furthermore, just this week, all three rating agencies once again certified Maryland's AAA bond rating -- a seal of fiscal responsibility currently bestowed on only nine states.
The balanced approach works. There are a few simple truths that should not get lost in the debate over what -- and how much -- to cut: the surest way to retire our national debt is to create jobs; the most effective way to close the federal deficit is to create jobs; and the clearest way forward and into an era of greater prosperity, growth, and opportunity for all is to create jobs. America wins when America creates jobs.
But if we let obstructionist Republicans in Congress have their way, we risk undermining our nation's very fragile jobs recovery with deep cuts to many of the priorities that allow our businesses to create jobs and prosper.
In Maryland, these indiscriminate cuts could, by some estimates, put nearly 115,000 of our workers out of their jobs, take 650 Maryland children out of Head Start programs, and threaten job training services for the 100,000 Marylanders who use these services each year.
There is not a country on earth that could get its fiscal house in order by shrinking opportunity and depressing growth. We need a better approach, one that balances cuts with targeted investments. We need to match spending cuts with revenue from closing tax loopholes, eliminating unfair giveaways (millionaires and billionaires should not enjoy a lower tax rate than America's teachers), and ending perverse incentives that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas. In short, we need a balanced approach.
Our parents and grandparents understood a powerful truth at the heart of the American dream: the stronger we make our country, the more she gives back to us, to our children, and to our grandchildren.
To make our country stronger, we must create jobs -- and to create jobs we must make better choices.
We need a balanced approach.