I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Can The Rest Of The Country Learn From Maryland's Pain?

Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley had no sooner received the phone call from former Governor Robert Ehrlich in November of 2006, when he began his quest to raise the tax burden on the residents of the Old Line State. His rationale for the increases was the “looming” structural deficits. He claimed that even though the state had $1.4 billion in surpluses, we would soon be running a deficit. His initial number was $400 million, his estimate finally landed at $1.7 billion. As he was inaugurated into the state house in Annapolis, the work began to come up with the nearly $1.5 billion in higher taxes.

The Democratic controlled House and Senate held special sessions to pass a nearly 10% increase of the tax burden on to the backs of Maryland citizens. They raised the cigarette tax, the vehicle titling tax, the corporate income tax, and the state sales tax. To add insult to the pain of all of the new taxes, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown alluded to the need for even more tax increases late last fall. He claimed that with the thousands of new residents that will be moving to Maryland as part of the Base Realignment And Closure plan, the state will need to spend billions on job training for the new residents. I can’t really fault O’Malley and Brown, or even the legislature for their perverse desire to constantly raise taxes. After all, they are tried and true liberal democrats, and that is what they know how to do. The concept of cutting expenditures never crosses their minds. To a liberal politician, money is power.

One other note of contention with our Governor, is that while raising the taxes of every single resident of Maryland, he deemed it necessary to raise the salaries of his staff. The raises amount to increases of salary by as much 37.5% while the legislature is considering halting raises for state employees. Some in the Senate tried to require the General Assembly’s approval for any additional pay raises for the Governor’s staff, but that measure was defeated. Even after all of the increases in taxes, the state will still have a budget deficit of $300 million next year. It is becoming all too clear that the phrase “tax and spend liberal” rings true here in Maryland.

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a margin of 2 to 1, Governor O’Malley’s approval rating is lower than that of President George W. Bush. It is not surprising when you consider that O’Malley’s tax plan has taken Maryland from a ranking near the middle in State Business Tax Climate Index to a ranking near the bottom. Maryland is no different than what will happen to the country if one of the 2 current Democrat contenders take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are talking about repealing tax cuts and their plans for health care will surely mean increases in taxes across the board. Could it be that voters are waking up to the insanity of “tax and spend liberalism”? I can only hope and pray that the voters in Maryland remember how much O’Malley has taken from us.

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