Fact or Fiction: Examining claims made by Maryland's gubernatorial candidates

It’s election season, and that means candidates at both ends of the political spectrum are making claims and arguments, trying to convince voters to pick them at the polls Tuesday.

So how do you figure out what’s true and what’s false?

ABC2 News selected various claims from each of the major gubernatorial candidates’ campaigns, and investigated the accuracy of each of them.

Democrats

Anthony Brown

The claim: Brown has come under fire for the state’s troubled healthcare exchange. On his campaign website, he acknowledges the challenges faced in the launch of the exchange’s website. But Maryland still exceeded its enrollment goals, he said.

“With a goal of signing up 260,000 individuals during the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, more than 340,000 Marylanders got quality, affordable health coverage, substantially improving their quality of life,” Brown writes on his website.

He also says even before the website was launched, he and Gov. Martin O’Malley helped more than a half-million Marylanders get access to affordable healthcare.

The facts: Those numbers cited by the Brown campaign include those who enrolled in Medicaid as well as those who signed up for private insurance. In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Maryland has fallen short of its goal of enrolling 150,000 Marylanders in private insurance plans.

As of last month, 67,757 Maryland residents have signed up for private insurance through under the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, federal officials had projected that 150,000 state residents would enroll, though state health officials later revised that to 70,000.

SEE RELATED: Maryland falls short of insurance enrollment goals

Vincent DeMarco, president of Health Care for All, said the O’Malley administration’s Working Families and Small Business Health Coverage Act of 2007, paid for by the one-dollar per pack increase in the state cigarette tax, extended healthcare to 107,000 parents.

Another 100,000 childless adults received healthcare due to an expansion in Medicaid. That law also provided grants to more than 200 small businesses that had previously been unable to provide healthcare to their employees.

According to figures provided by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Medicaid enrollment increased by 423,863 individuals from January 2007 to December 2013. Of those residents, 184,851 were children.

Another 226,000 children got health coverage through the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP). DeMarco also estimates “tens of thousands” of young adults were helped when the Maryland General Assembly passed an administration bill allowing them to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 25. The Affordable Care Act bumped that age to 26.

Doug Gansler

The claim: According Gansler said he “compelled the five biggest private mortgage lenders” – Ally, Bank of America, Citi, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo—to pay about $960 million to help Maryland borrowers who suffered during the mortgage crisis. It was the largest settlement of its kind in Maryland history.

The facts: Gansler can take partial credit for this. The settlement actually stemmed from a nationwide investigation into unfair lending practices. The 2012 settlement provided $25 billion in relief to struggling homeowners in 49 states.

“This agreement – the largest joint federal-state settlement ever obtained – is the result of unprecedented coordination among enforcement agencies throughout the government,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news release then.  

Heather Mizeur

The claim: A big part of Mizeur’s campaign platform centers around legalizing marijuana. An outspoken proponent of marijuana legalization, Mizeur wants to tax the drug and use it to pay for full-day pre-kindergarten. She says $153 million in annual revenue will be able to provide up to 23,625 children with full-day prekindergarten.  

The facts: Per state figures, enrolling that number of students in pre-kindergarten would cost $128.1 million. That doesn’t include the cost of funding teachers and administrators, though. Add that in, and the end figure is around $153 million, a state spokesman said.

Republicans

David Craig

The claim: Craig, the Harford County executive, has criticized the state Department of Education for being too bloated, saying its budget has increased from $265 million in 2007 to $307 million this year.  The state agency employs 1,600 government workers. “That money would be better spent in Maryland classrooms,” Craig writes on his campaign website.

 

The facts: The budget for the Department of Education was about $265 million in 2007, and federal funds covered 51.8 percent of that. In 2015, the budget is $289 million, with with 65 percent covered by federal funds.

 

The department had 1,635 staff members in its 2007 budget.  It has 1,445 regular state employees in 2015.

But including contractual employees, the number increases to 1,621.


Ron George

The claim: It costs Maryland $13,900 a year to educate

a K-12 student, while the national average is $10,400, George says. He wants to create a scholarship system where students that pass an entrance exam to a non-public school will receive money to attend without the state having to pay more.

The facts: George slightly over-estimated what Maryland spends, and slightly under-estimated the national average. The per-pupil cost in Maryland is $13,375 cost, according to state figures. Nationally, it’s $11,153, according to figures cited by the U.S. Department of Education.

Larry Hogan

The claim: Unemployment is 75 percent higher today than it was in 2007, when Gov. Martin O’Malley took office.

The facts: Maryland’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in January 2007 when O'Malley took office, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. As of April 2014, the latest numbers available, the Maryland unemployment rate is 5.6 percent—an increase of about 55 percent since 2007.

Charles Lollar

The claim: Lollar, who on his campaign website called Maryland “one of the worst states in which to do business,” said Marylanders are fleeing the state in droves. Between 2000-2010, 1.4 million Marylanders moved to other states and took $5.5 billion in taxable income with them, Lollar said.

The facts: It’s complicated, said Lyman Stone, an economist with the non-partisan Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Lollar is right that 1.4 million people left Maryland between 2000 and 2010. They left with $46.8 billion in adjusted gross income.

But, Stone said, the $5.5 million is a more correct number because, during that same period, 1.3 million people moved into Maryland with $41.3 billion in adjusted gross income.

“Neither number cited is false,” Stone said. “1.4 million people did leave. $5.5 billion in adjusted gross income was lost. It’s just that the $5.5 billion in adjusted gross income is a net, and the 1.4 million is a gross, so citing them together isn’t strictly appropriate.”


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