The Democrats want to know: What else can we tax?

Just days after Governor O’Malley locked down a date for this fall’s Special Session for redistricting, Democrats in the General Assembly are making it abundantly clear of what else is on the agenda:  more taxes!

After all, it really was no secret.  Only a week after the 2011 Session ended, the Chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Senator Ed Kasemeyer stated his intentions as bluntly as possible: “We’ve got to tax more things.”   This was after a session where the sales tax on alcohol was increased 50%, and they passed a budget that was laden with tax and fee increases.  With an attitude like that dominating the Democratic side of the aisle, there is little doubt what the taxpayers are in for coming this fall.

Like Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again”!  It was just four years ago that the General Assembly increased taxes by $1.3 billion during the 2007 Special Session, under the guise of eliminating Maryland’s constant structural deficits.  They increased the sales tax, as well as personal and corporate income taxes, then turned around and increased spending by $1.3 billion just a few months later!  It is the same spend and tax mentality that we’re dealing with today.  However, in 2007 the economic decline was warned of but it had not completely materialized.  Today we’re in the heart of what could be a double dip recession, with record unemployment that is high and steady.  Another round of massive tax increases could be devastating to Maryland’s hardworking taxpayers.

But, the struggle of Maryland’s taxpayers in this economy makes no difference to the Governor and Democratic leadership in the General Assembly.  They are addicted to spending and will let nothing get in the way of their next tax fix.  Even with gas prices on the rise again, many are still eyeing a gas tax increase.  If not the gas tax, then maybe another attempt at expanding the sales tax to services, or taxing internet sales.  The Senate Budget and Taxation committee has suddenly realized the state is facing a $1.1 billion deficit next year – a fact they were oblivious to when they increased spending $1.4 billion just a few months ago.   To deal with this problem the Committee has asked the Department of Legislative Services to compile a list of things that are currently not taxed that could be.  The list includes necessities like food and both prescription and non-prescription medication.  It is amazing how the same people who scream about affordable health care are considering adding a tax to your Grandmother’s heart medication.

“They want to know: What could we tax
that we don’t tax now?”

-Warren Deschenaux, Department of Legislative Services
 Washington Examiner, July 11, 2011

Even the real purpose of the special session – congressional redistricting – is also cause for concern. In addition to the obvious problems of gerrymandering, it looks like Speaker of the House Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller are planning to hold only 8 or 9 public hearings on the subject, in contrast with the 12 held in previous redistricting years.  After the procrastination of our globe-trotting Governor in appointing a redistricting commission, it looks to us like he’s trying to get his redistricting plan through with as little public input as possible.

Some Good News

But it’s not all bad!  The petition drive to put in-state tuition on the ballot has been a historic success!  The Board of Elections certified enough signatures from the second batch to officially put SB 167 on the ballot for the voters to decide in 2012.  SB 167 gives in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants and would have gone into effect on July 1 of this year had the petition drive not turned in enough signatures by the May 31 deadline.  Since enough signatures have been turned in and validated, the bill does not go into effect until after the November 2012 election and possibly not even then if the bill fails in the ballot box.  This petition drive was unlike others that have been organized in Maryland.  It was entirely a grassroots effort!  All the hundreds of people around the state who gave their time and their energy to help collect signatures are to be congratulated on their hard work and dedication to conservative principles!