Raising taxes and fees 40 times to the tune of $9.5 billion is one thing. However, it appears the O’Malley-Brown administration’s rapacious appetite, for ever-increasing revenue, knows no boundaries
From a Baltimore Sun oped by an attorney who represented an orphan against the state of Maryland:
Try this on for size: The Maryland agency overseeing foster care has been appropriating foster children's assets — orphaned children's survivor benefits, for example — and handing them over to the state.
There's more: Not only does this agency take assets from children, but Gov. Martin O'Malley and the head of the Maryland Department of Human Resources encourage the practice, going so far as to hire a private company to help obtain Social Security disability (SSI) and survivor benefits (SSDI) from foster children to use as government revenue.
Children's Social Security benefits are intended to serve the children's best interests, not to pay the state back for foster care. But our foster care agency is targeting abused and neglected children who are disabled or have dead parents, applying for Social Security benefits on their behalf — and then diverting the money to state coffers. The practice has been occurring for years, but in secret. Children and their lawyers are not notified.
Despite litigation regarding the practice, Maryland hired a private contractor — MAXIMUS (tag line: "Helping Government Serve the People") — to help broaden these efforts to "maximize revenue gain." Records obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act request expose:
•MAXIMUS recommendations "designed to promote the identification of and subsequent acquisition of all SSI/SSDI benefits for all qualifying foster care children;"
•MAXIMUS' encouragement of caseworkers "to refer any child suspected from suffering from any illness — from a quadriplegic to ADHA [sic];"
•A goal to increase the number of Maryland foster children determined disabled for Social Security benefits from the current 2 percent to 15-20 percent
•Plans to convert up to $9 million annually in resulting children's benefits to government revenue;
•And a warning that Maryland may be double-dipping by possibly obtaining foster children's assets and other funds to reimburse itself for state costs more than once.
To sum up:
This practice has gone on for years, in secret, and O’Malley paid a contractor over $150,000—according to state spending records—to come up with a plan to convert $9 million a year in orphan benefits to state revenue.
This gives new meaning to the phrase, spend it like you stole it.