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The economy is way too fragile for us to raise taxes this year.

That was how Comptroller Franchot opened the MACPA's annual luncheon for the comptroller and his staff at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore.

Franchot went on to say that, across the board, “draconian” spending cuts are also not the answer.

There is a third way — performance accounting, in which you actually develop outcomes for government programs and check the results year after year before re-funding them.

Wow … it almost makes too much sense.

One thing that impresses me about Peter Franchot is that he has the pulse of Maryland businesses and citizens.

He gains his perspective from being out and about in Maryland, and he gave us his top six lessons from the road at our luncheon, which was sponsored by the MACPA's State Tax Committee. Here is what I took away from his talk: 

  1. No new taxes. Period.
  2. Spending reform: Evaluate every expenditure and inefficiency.
  3. Performance accounting: Look at results and effectiveness before spending.
  4. Debt reduction by the state.
  5. More public-private partnership to solve these “wicked problems.”
  6. The need for more financial literacy education.

Turns out several of these suggestions are exactly what we do as CPAs, and he asked for our help with performance accounting suggestions, passing financial literacy legislation (which we have worked on with him for the past few years) and financial literacy education (which we have been very actively in doing).

Thank you for sharing your insights, Mr. Comptroller! I wish more of our lawmakers had this perspective.

One suggestion may be to consider using standard business reporting to reduce the costs of compliance by businesses in Maryland. This has been accomplished successfully in several countries (Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand) and several states (Oregon and Nevada) using XBRL.

See our post, XBRL and government: A marriage made in Nevada to see how this can save money for government and businesses. Then, read what Baltimore Business Journal reporter Gary Haber said in his article.

What do you think about Peter's lessons from the road?

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