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Opinion
WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Smith: Maryland GOP May Need To Revise Its Argument

Question for Maryland Republicans: is it time to find another argument for getting Democrats out of office? 

For years, if not generations, the Maryland GOP says this state is toxic for business. Variations on the theme: millionaires are moving out, businesses are moving out. No one with an idea or a fortune is moving in. And why? The business climate is lousy, according to the Republican theme song.

But wait. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, no haven for Democrats, says Maryland ranks number one in the nation for entrepreneurship and innovation.  Its tax incentives for biotech investments and credits for research are part of the reason. Entrepreneur Magazine agrees. It says Maryland is the best state in the nation for starting a company.

There are contradictory voices, to be sure. Notwithstanding its view on entrepreneurship, the U.S. Chamber says Maryland ranks 43rd in business climate.  Other rating agencies find Maryland just as bad as Republicans assert. The Tax Foundation says Maryland has the 41st ranked business climate. This is due in part to these findings: It has the 6th highest individual income tax rate, the 5th highest unemployment insurance rate and the 11th highest property tax rate.

Anirban Basu, CEO of the Sage Policy Group who reports regularly on business for this radio station, says the ratings don’t matter much. He told "The Daily Record"’s Alexander Pyles that people will react to their own perceptions. 

It’s a conundrum for Republicans. They could and probably will continue the drum beat of bad, bad, bad for business. That approach will put it in conflict, once again, with the U.S. Chamber. It rated Maryland’s business climate 9th in the nation overall.