With the Kirwan Commission recommending that Maryland adequately invest in a high-quality education system, the Maryland Public Policy Institute’s Carol Park argued in her Nov. 3 Local Opinions essay, “Maryland has a spending problem,” that the state needs instead an arbitrary limit on tax revenue and spending. That would be bad news for families and the state’s economy. To see why, just look at Colorado, the only state with this sort of Taxpayer Bill of Rights, known as TABOR.

Since adopting TABOR in 1992, Colorado has fallen to 48th among states in K-12 spending and 47th in higher-education spending as a share of personal income. It faces a roughly $1 billion annual shortfall for transportation needs, including highways and bridges.

To raise needed revenue, lawmakers have resorted to boosting fees, which generally aren’t based on ability to pay. This forces struggling Coloradans to bear more of the load.

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Voters have approved nearly 500 local measures to relax TABOR’s restrictions on cities and towns. In 2005, they partially suspended TABOR for five years.

Maryland lawmakers should reject TABOR-type gimmicks and instead raise the necessary revenue — including what the Kirwan Commission has advised — to invest in schools, health care and infrastructure to promote broad-based prosperity.

Michael Leachman, Washington

The writer is senior director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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