Senator Zirkin is a member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, placing him at the forefront of economic well-being in Maryland. As mandated by the Maryland Constitution, the State of Maryland must have a balanced budget for each fiscal year. During tough economic times, Senator Zirkin searches for creative ways to successfully balance the budget without placing the burden on taxpayers.
Like the rest of the country, Maryland once again faces tough budgetary constraints. Last year the State was aided by stimulus funding from the federal government and while remaining stimulus funding is helping to reduce the current budget gap, very difficult choices must still be made. Sound fiscal responsibility is the only way Maryland will avoid the same pitfalls other states throughout the country have encountered. Senator Zirkin appreciates the very real impact Maryland's current budgetary constraints have on important programs throughout the State. For this reason, Senator Zirkin emphasizes smart tax policy, continued funding of economic development programs and strong education so that Maryland continues to produce an elite workforce.
Senator Zirkin is also keenly aware of the impact of taxes on the business climate in Maryland. Recently, Senator Zirkin spoke against the computer services tax and argued that, for legal and economic reasons, it was bad policy for Maryland. Because that tax remained in the final bill, Senator Zirkin voted against the bill on the Senate floor. Fortunately, the tax on computer services was eventually repealed. The Senator strongly believes that a tax on services such as this would wreak havoc on our current and future economy.
Despite the current status of the general economy, our State continues to fund important economic development programs to assure its success when the economy stabilizes. Maryland funds Medicaid solidly so that low income citizens receive the services that they need. Support for tourism, business assistance, biotechnology, and stem cell research will be maintained. Also, Maryland has retained its AAA bond rating through prudent and consistent fiscal practices. Coming from all three recognized credit reporting agencies, Maryland is one of seven states with this elite rating, which allows Maryland to borrow money for construction projects at favorable interest rates.
Maryland had led a fight to increase financing of infrastructure improvements located in transit-oriented development (TOD) areas. A TOD uses public transit stations as the foundation for vibrant communities with a mix of commercial, residential and retail development. These kinds of projects will increase ridership and enhance opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle mobility, which in turn creates a "greener" environment, reduces traffic, and provides a viable alternative to urban sprawl.
Our workforce is one of Maryland's greatest assets. In a tough economy we must use our educational system to ensure that Maryland continues to be a home for the nation's best work force. Despite the current budgetary situation, Maryland schools have been well funded. Education Week, the premier education journal, ranked Maryland #1 in the nation in its annual 'Quality Counts' survey for the second consecutive year. In a tough and changing economy, continued funding for services and training for adult learners allows individuals to re-educate themselves, preparing for newer industries. It is crucial that we invest in our future growth by assuring that children and adults have access to the education and skill development they need.
Through economic development, strengthening Maryland's workforce, and encouraging innovative new industries to come to Maryland, Bobby Zirkin has worked hard to ensure Maryland's economic security.