- Post 18 April 2012
- By MDTaxes.org
We certainly had a surprising finish to the regular legislative session! According to the Department of Legislative Services: The "doomsday" budget spends a total of $35.4 billion. That is $700 million higher than FY '12 spending of $34.7 billion. The budget itself was passed. But the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act was not. The BRFA contained many fees and taxes to finance the new spending including income taxes on the "rich," starting at $100,000 for singles and $150,000 for marrieds. For the sixth year in a year, Annapolis wants to spend more than estimated income, so the "need" for taxes to finance yearly deficits. Your voices are still desperately needed. Email, call, etc. Also, see short vignette below about the miracle of tax cuts.
Vote tallies for the Senate are here. Only one Republican (Colburn) voted yea, otherwise, ten Republicans voted nay. The House voted 95 to 43 to pass the budget with 2 excused (Stocksdale-R, Turner-D). Tallies are here. Nays included 41 Republicans and 2 Democrats, Minnick and Weir, both from Baltimore County. For the record, Republicans number only 12 in the Senate and 42 in the House.
Blame went everywhere. The failure was in not passing more taxes and possibly another 400 bills that legislators were nursing along. The Governor's leadership was scattered with tax ideas being thrown about; otherwise, many claimed it was absent. Senate President Mike Miller wanted a casino in Prince George's and the two houses were disputing the size of new taxes. Republicans slowed things down, which was about all they could do. The House wanted to add 5 days to the session by ignoring their own rules, but that didn't happen.
A Special Session seems in the offing, but since personal slights abound, it could be dangerous. The Governor would want to be assured that he would get what he wants. If called, the Session could be short or it could get mired down. It would be better for Marylanders' pockets, rich, middle class and poor alike, if it just wasn't called.
If necessary, the Governor can legally cut spending. A no brainer would be to take off the books the 5,000 to 6,000 jobs that typically are budgeted every fiscal year and never filled. They are "slush"! Or how about the cars, 9,000 or so, that employees take home with them at night? These cars amount to about one for every 9 or 10 full time employees and are not police cars or State Highway Administration trucks. Does your company do this? If zero-based budgeting were implemented, these examples could be just the tip of the iceberg. Anyway, cuts like these wouldn't hurt the public at all. They probably would help avoid future deficits.
Be that as it may, bills were passed. SB 848 needs to be highlighted for several awful characteristics. Under the guise of Maintenance of Education, the state will impound county taxes it collects and give the money to Boards of Education if the counties cut education funds. Many charter counties (there are 9—mostly bigger counties) have property tax limitations. Their Charters are equivalent to local constitutions. It is highly questionable, certainly ethically, but possibly legally, for the state to take control of county budgets in this way. This ignores other county needs including police and firefighters. Worse, across the state, there are fewer students today than ten years ago. Perhaps the lower student population is a symptom of the many bad economic policies. Ideally, the counties will band together and sue the state. Or...if possible, the citizens should petition SB 848 to referendum.
*Stickers like the one above are available for your auto’s rear window. You can send for them by return mail from: Maryland Taxpayers Association, 9613-C Harford Road #527, Baltimore, MD 21234. To cover costs, we ask that you send $1 for 1 sticker. $2 for 3 stickers, or $5 for 10. The stickers are 4 inches in diameter, similar in size to the Marine Corps stickers you see. You should soon be able to order these from our website (currently being revised): www.mdtaxes.org.