When the Office of Comptroller was first conceived in the Maryland Constitution over one and a half centuries ago, it was because the people of Maryland believed it necessary to directly elect an independent constitutional officer to protect taxpayer dollars from mismanagement. To this day, that constitutional language remains: that the comptroller shall “have the general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of the State” and “prepare plans for the improvement and management of the revenue.”
The Comptroller is meant to be Marylanders’ watchdog, accountable only to them, not to the legislature or the Governor. Tim Adams would bring over 30 years of executive leadership and experience in the public and private sector to the Comptroller’s office. He overcame incredible adversity to start one of the nation’s most successful black-owned businesses. To make his business work, he managed the businesses’ funds carefully, and honestly, not overpromising big revenue figures or wasting precious resources on executive excesses. As the first African American Mayor of Bowie, Adams has successfully led the city through COVID and balanced budgets without raising taxes. If elected Comptroller, Tim will hold Maryland to the same standard he held his business and city government, using the office to root out waste, fraud, and abuse while ensuring equity and fairness for all Marylanders. As Maryland relies on unprecedented federal funding and state tax revenues to emerge from the pandemic era stronger than ever, Marylanders need a Comptroller with proven executive leadership and experience and a track record of achieving equitable and fair government.Below are Adams’ top priorities as Comptroller to ensure fiscal accountability, equity and fairness for Marylanders.
Close Tax Loopholes and Ensure Wealthy Corporations Pay Their Fair Share
- Tim believes that we cannot justify higher taxes on Maryland’s law-abiding families and small businesses while wealthy corporations avoid paying their fair share. That is why, as Maryland’s chief tax collector, Tim will utilize highly-skilled personnel, combined with the most current technology and best practices in data analytics, to crack down on tax cheats and recapture money that is rightfully owed to the State of Maryland.
- Tim realizes that when tax loopholes allow major corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, an even greater burden falls upon consumers and small businesses that are at the heart of our state’s economy. As Comptroller, Tim will strongly support and advocate for laws – including but not limited to combined reporting - that close those loopholes and require major corporations doing business in Maryland to pay their fair share of taxes.
- As a businessman and Mayor, Tim has first hand experience with the government procurement process. He will work successfully to end those practices that essentially provide the biggest, most politically-connected companies with “contracts for life.”Tim knows that true bid competition is the only way to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best possible services at the lowest possible prices. That is why, as a member of the three-member Board of Public Works that approves most government contracts above $200,000, Tim will demand a significant reduction in the number of single-bid, sole source and retroactive contracts that are brought to the Board for approval.
- For many Marylanders attending a hearing in Annapolis or the Board of Public Works meeting isn’t possible. Taxpayers are working hard to raise their families and make ends meet leaving little time to weigh in directly with lawmakers making decisions about how their tax dollars are spent. Tim believes government spending should be as transparent as possible and that taxpayers should always have a seat at the table along the way. He will elevate Marylanders’ voices in the process of government spending by conducting non-partisan polling, one-on-one interviews, and town hall meetings year-round that identify Marylanders’ spending priorities, including by building statistically significant samples in rural communities, black and brown communities, and each region of the state to ensure no Marylanders’ needs are marginalized. Tim will publish and publicize an annual “Spending Census” report of the findings to help ensure taxpayers from every region and community of the state are being heard.
- Knowing that tax credits are frequently given to particular economic sectors and constituency groups on the basis of their political connections, and not on the basis of merit, Tim will conduct an independent review of every existing state income tax credit, assess their value to our state’s economic and fiscal well-being, and recommend to the Governor and legislature that they either be preserved or discontinued.
- As a successful businessman and Mayor, Tim has the executive leadership and management experience necessary to protect our bond rating and help grow Maryland’s economy. Tim understands the risk that unsustainable debt would pose to our state’s economic and social well-being. As a member of Maryland’s Capital Debt Affordability Committee (CDAC), Tim will draw a hard line against policies that would jeopardize Maryland’s coveted AAA bond rating and impose an added tax burden on Marylanders.
- As a member of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (SRPS) Board of Trustees, Tim’s oversight of the pension funds will be guided by a commitment to long-term growth and stability over short-term gains. Maryland’s public servants don’t need a few good years of return on paper – they need to know that the next recession won’t decimate their pensions.
- Tim appreciates the importance of a fully-funded pension system to the financial security of Maryland’s active and retired public employees. As the next Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Systems (SRPS), Tim will call for an exhaustive review of our state’s recent returns on investment, as well as our current investment strategies, to ensure that we are well-positioned for both long-term growth and stability.
- Tim will call for a new approach to risk management: SRPS should worry less about predicting when growth will fall short of benchmarks, and instead focus on preparing the fund to meet its commitments even when markets are down. Pensions cannot predict precisely how markets will ebb and flow, but they do know how much cash they owe to workers and when. Maryland’s pensions should assume a “target-date” approach, allocating pension assets to the least-risky investments proportionally with how many beneficiaries will vest in the next few years. Likewise, the fund can allocate capital to high-growth, riskier assets proportionally to the amount of beneficiaries who are a decade or more from retirement.
- Tim will call for more investment in broad-based index funds to reduce risk and fees to outside managers. Maryland’s pension system boasted a record 26.7% return by mid-year 2021, but at the same time the S&P 500 returned 40.77%. Index funds have long outperformed more sophisticated investment schemes which have often failed to limit down-side risk, and it is time for Maryland’s public officials insist that hedge funds justify their fees.