Ed Priola

Ed Priola

Candidate for Maryland House of Delegates, District 13

  • Political Party: Republican
  • Birthdate: 05/09/1954
  • Education: MA, org. communication; BA, political science
  • Political Experience: Reagan '80; field dir. National Taxpayers Union
  • Professional Experience: Lifelong activist for low taxes, term limits

“We need term limits to retire the dinosaurs that roam the halls in Annapolis and replace them with common sense citizen legislators.”

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Ed Priola’s Blog

Response to Sun Editorials on Term Limits and Redistricting

Below is a letter I submitted to the Sun staff in response to two recent editorial opinions.

I was stunned by the contradictions between two recent editorials published by your newspaper. In the first (“Term limits are back,” Sept. 2), you bemoaned new calls for legislative term limits in Maryland. You stated that term limits would suck the experience out of the legislature and transfer more power to the governor, staff, lobbyists and political parties. You called it a “formula for machine politics.” You then declared that frustrated voters could overcome the lock entrenched politicians have on their offices by simply voting them out.

In a subsequent editorial about redrawing political districts (“Drawing a line,” Sept. 5), you affirmed that entrenched incumbent legislators have completely rigged the system from top to bottom. You commented that incumbents enjoy the “huge advantages” of taxpayer financed staffs and generous communications budgets, becoming “magnets for cash contributions from special interests once they are elected.”

Excuse me, but isn’t this the machine politics you assert would result from imposing term limits? Our current system is more like old Soviet-style elections than what our founding fathers had in mind.

Count me as one of the nearly 8 out of 10 Americans, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, in recent opinion polls who support term limits as one tool of restoring meaningful and truly “representative” democracy. Your editorial against term limits completely avoids the irrefutable fact that term limits guarantee voters new choices for representatives.

My Top Three Priorities

I was recently asked what will be my top three priorities once elected to the Maryland House of Delegates. Here’s a snapshot of what I think we need to focus on first:

1. Enact term limits on the Maryland General Assembly—to replace entrenched career politicians with citizen legislators. 

The first piece of legislation I will introduce will be term limits. Our state government, designed for a long gone agrarian society, has become dysfunctional.  It has been monopolized by entrenched career politicians who have never worked elsewhere.  It needs complete retooling. We need periodic turnover of legislators, so that new ideas and fresh approaches might be applied to governing.  My proposed legislation will require that legislators sit out one term after two consecutive terms in the same office.  They may return to run for public office again only after living under the laws they pass for everyone else.

2. Restore Maryland to a business friendly state where private enterprises create jobs and attract investment.

I will fight to reduce the excessive tax and regulatory burdens on businesses.  Under my proposed legislation, small businesses in particular will be given substantial support.  Start-up companies will be given an incubation period during which they will be encouraged to internally invest, innovate and hire staff.  My legislation will facilitate their growth with a flat tax.  That way, entrepreneurs will be able to focus on building their business as opposed to managing mountains of paperwork.

3. End the Legislature’s “tax and spend” mantra.

“Doing more with less” must be the motto for Maryland government. We need to implement management practices that measure the performance of government employees based upon their productivity and not how many hours they sat at their desks.  This means zero-based budgeting, which requires each governmental unit to justify the existence of every budget line item, every budget cycle.  It means adopting innovations like the four-day work week for civil servants.  Working ten hours for four days a week is popular with government workers in Nebraska.  Employees now have more quality time with their families, while citizens have access to government offices like the Motor Vehicle Administration during extended hours.  Moreover, public servants use less transportation fuel commuting and the roads are less congested as a result.

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Solving Maryland’s Chronic Spending Crisis

By Reforming Our Jurassic Era Government and Its Wasteful Philosophy of “Tax and Spend”

We have a structural problem in Maryland, but it isn’t limited to a structural deficit.

Our government was designed for an agrarian age that has long since vanished. We have a weak Legislature that meets for only three months at the beginning of each year, and a Board of Public Works that spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in a non-transparent manner the rest of the time. As a result, we have ill informed, part-time legislators more focused on reelection and retirement benefits than on managing government efficiently.

Administratively, we are locked into a labyrinth of: 1) spending mandates; 2) compartmentalized programs; 3) dedicated funding sources; and, 4) an all too evident lack of flexibility in management options.

I say it is time to begin reforming our Jurassic era government and its wasteful philosophy of “tax and spend”!

This philosophy evokes the old adage that “when you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In the Annapolis context of taxes and spending, when politicians think that all they have to solve problems with is spending, every taxpayer looks like an ATM.

We must reorder the way we govern our state and right-size our government, orienting decision makers toward a more flexible, 21st century management model.

I support a two-pronged approach to retooling the Jurassic government structure in Annapolis.

First, we must redirect the focus of legislators toward their constituents’ needs and away from their own reelection.

Once elected, I will push to incorporate disincentives for career politicians to remain in office for decades (by eliminating their retirement benefits) and to curb their ability to doll out pork to interest groups.

The first piece of legislation I will sponsor will impose term limits. That is one check on political power that should have been passed decades ago.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine argued that elected officials should “return and mix again with the general body of electors.” Thomas Paine believed in a system of citizen legislators and so do I.

Term limits guarantee a turnover of legislators, an interruption in the old-boy networks; they also bring in new, energized people with different skill sets and new ideas into government.

Most of all, term limits cut short the ambitions of politicians obsessed with their own careers. Let them sit out at least one term every eight years and live under the laws they pass for the rest of us!

Second, we need to implement more efficient and flexible forms of management in our government administration.

To begin, we have to restore the trust our civil servants have in government by guarantying that they will never again be used as pawns to balance the budget through furloughs and layoffs after a decades-long spending binge.

Then, we need to implement the best practices of performance based management in government. I advocate for the creation of results-oriented work environments (ROWE) in our administrative structures, where practicable.

ROWE allows managers and employees to create flexible work schemes, four-day work weeks, job sharing schedules, etc. The four-day work week was implemented last year in Nebraska with excellent productivity results; 80% of the workforce approves of it.

Our old model of management assumes that physical presence equals results. This new management model lets employees determine where and how they accomplish goals.

The results include a much better balance between work and family life; a reduction in expenditures for office overhead; less time wasted on commuting; and, less fuel being consumed. Our transportation system would have reduced demands upon it and we would put fewer pollutants into the air. Managers could spend more time coaching employees and less time disciplining them.

Conversely, some poor performing employees would no longer explain away low performance on the grounds of illness or a personal crisis. I have experienced this kind of work environment for a number of years myself and I can testify that it really works.

It’s not a question of “if,” but “when” we will shift from Jurassic government toward oversight by citizen legislators and 21st century management. I simply want to accelerate this process.

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