When state Del. Brooke Lierman was running for the job of Maryland comptroller, she visited every county and Baltimore City; the first thing she had to do was explain to voters what a comptroller does.
“In a nutshell, it sees every dollar in and every dollar out,” Lierman said. The comptroller is also responsible for collecting all the taxes, working on the returns, working on the auditing “to make sure that people are paying their fair share,” she said.
The comptroller, along with the governor and treasurer, also sits on the three-member Board of Public Works, which she said “is responsible for approving or denying every single contract that the state enters into over $200,000.”
Another thing on the job list is keeping an eye on state investments, whether that’s in the Maryland 529 — the state’s college investment plan — or the state’s retirement and pension system.
Another role for the state’s top fiscal officer, according to Lierman, includes getting out into the community.
“Talking with small businesses about opportunities for procurement, talking with residents about how to reduce financial barriers to success and to building prosperity,” she said.
As she begins her new role, Lierman said she wants to make sure that members of the comptroller office staff have the tools needed to do their job.
“We have very outdated systems in the comptroller’s office,” and Lierman said she is looking forward to updating the office’s financial management software.
For example, Lierman said she wants taxpayers to be able to find answers to more of their questions online.
“People should not have to pick up the phone to call us as much as they need to,” she said. “We have an outdated website that isn’t supported by phone browsers.”
Staffing is also a priority for Lierman.
“If we don’t have tax attorneys who can audit the difficult financial statements and tax returns that high-wealth individuals or companies are sending in, that’s a problem. We’re leaving money on the table then,” Lierman said.
‘The little things matter in government, and they matter to families’
For the first time in eight years, all three members of the Board of Public Works will be Democrats: Lierman, Gov.-Elect Wes Moore and Treasurer Dereck Davis.
“I am very cognizant of course, as is Governor-Elect Moore and Treasurer Davis of the precarious situation that the state economy and our country’s economy is in,” Lierman said. “Families are really hurting because of inflation.”
She pointed out that Maryland’s Democrat-majority legislature passed multiple measures to combat inflation, including a gas tax holiday, ending the sales tax on diapers, and a tax credit for senior citizens.
“The little things matter in government, and they matter to families. A small amount of money can make or break a family that’s on the edge,” Lierman said.
Traveling across the state during her campaign highlighted for Lierman how areas that seem to have little in common — such as Cambridge on the Eastern Shore, Cumberland in western Maryland and Baltimore City — actually share many challenges.
They all “are struggling with a lack of capital investment, old infrastructure, the need for more affordable high-speed internet,” she said.
Lierman is the first woman elected to the statewide office.
“When you care about an office like the Comptroller’s Office, and you care about the details, you’re really showing that you believe in government’s ability to do that, to create opportunity, to make sure that people can live their lives to the fullest and meet their God-given potential,” Lierman said.