Annapolis, Md. – Today, House Republicans announced their plan to repeal Maryland’s Rain Tax. In the year since it was passed during the 2012 Legislative Session, the Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection Program, has proven to be nothing more than another excuse to tax Marylanders.
“If you ask the citizens of our State if they support efforts to clean up the Bay, you will hear a resounding ‘yes’. If you ask those same citizens if they support both a healthy environment and business climate, they will say ‘yes,’” said Delegate Cathy Vitale (Anne Arundel County). “These principals are not mutually exclusive. However, the hasty manner in which the Rain Tax was passed failed to take into consideration the impact this legislation would have on industries that are now treated differently from county to county, and on ‘consumer purchasing’ from one to the other as only some businesses will have to build in these costs to their products and services.”
“We’ve had more than a year to see how this policy would play out, and so far it has done nothing to improve the Chesapeake Bay,” said Delegate Wayne Norman, the bill’s lead sponsor. “Cleaning up the Bay is a regional issue and it is foolish to make ten counties in Maryland the primary focus of these efforts. We need to repeal the Rain Tax and find a new, equitable solution that will actually improve the health of the Bay.”
The Rain Tax is one of more than 80 tax, toll and fee increases levied on Maryland’s citizens by the O’Malley/Brown Administration.
Yesterday the House of Delegates debated SB 134, the bill that will provide retroactive coverage to those who tried to register for health insurance on Maryland’s notoriously flawed health care exchange website. We have affectionately named it the “Anthony Brown Health Care Exchange Bailout.” Below are some great remarks delivered on the floor by Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of District 37B on the Eastern Shore and Del. Herb McMillan of District 30 in Anne Arundel County.
From the very beginning the Maryland Health Exchange has been a failure to launch. Millions of dollars spent on the roll out, on the web site, on fixes and now we will spend more taxpayer dollars on a temporary fix to a long term problem.
You expect us to have faith that it will all be fixed – but the fact that the bill allows the MHIP Board to extend this coverage prospectively again and again and again demonstrates that there is NO REASON TO BELIEVE that it will be fixed before the end of this legislative session.
In the meantime, you expect people to prove that they attempted to get coverage, – to sign an affidavit that their computer screen froze, to sign an affidavit that they were on hold for over two hours, or to sign an affidavit that they were given the wrong phone number – or to submit paper applications– Now that’s progressive!
There is a simple solution. If this is really about getting people health insurance, skip the bureaucracy and let individuals who are eligible for a subsidy have their subsidy and go to a private broker to get coverage.
This is a nothing more than a bailout, a cover up and another waste of taxpayer dollars and I cannot support that. The contractors and the leaders who were responsible for these mistakes should be paying up – not the taxpayers.
- Del. Jeannie Haddaway Riccio
- If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance.
- If you have health insurance it will cost the same or be less expensive
- That there will be enough new people signing up for health insurance to subsidize those who cannot afford it – not just more people signing up for Medicaid and subsidies.
- That government will be competent to manage one of the largest segments of our economy, and one that touches each of us personally.
It is clear that on both a national and state level, that none of these premises are correct. This bill attempts to fix a flat tire on a car with a blown engine; the car still won’t get you anywhere when you’re done. Better to fix the car’s engine before you fix the flat tire; but this bill doesn’t do that.
Think about how this bill is structured. It’s a blank check; open ended funding for anyone who claims they attempted to obtain health insurance. Providing health insurance to a person retroactively is like giving care insurance coverage to a person after they’ve had a wreck. Insurance doesn’t work that way in the real world.
Some will say this bill is the compassionate thing to do – but it isn’t. The compassionate thing to do is to recognize and address the underlying problems with Maryland’s health insurance system. This bill doesn’t do that.
It’s time to say goodbye to the mindset that simply throwing taxpayer’s money at a problem is compassionate or a measure of how much we care. Compassion applied without competence and common sense has led us to this failure. What Maryland needs now is compassion coupled with competence; compassion coupled with common sense; and compassion coupled with a health insurance system that actually works. This bill doesn’t fulfill those needs. All it does is sweep Maryland’s health insurance problems under the rug; and that’s not compassion, its cowardice.
- Del. Herb McMillan
Really?! Take a look at the numbers!
Nearly 80 increases in taxes, tolls, and fees, $9.1 billion in spending increases, and we still have a deficit. An annual unemployment rate that remains static, even as America’s unemployment rate decreases. The third highest rate of food stamp growth in America. The fourth highest home foreclosure rate in America.
This is the REAL State of the State;
because we can’t spend our way out of a deficit, or tax ourselves into prosperity.
Annapolis – House & Senate Republicans on the Spending Affordability Committee yesterday voted for a reduction in Maryland’s debt of $375 million and to require Governor Martin O’Malley to submit a budget of 0% growth.
Democrats on the Spending Affordability Committee rejected both Republican proposals and voted to accelerate state spending by 4% and increase the state debt ceiling by $75 million.
“Today, we learned from legislative staff that Maryland faces a shortfall of $600 million,” said Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley. “With this daunting challenge of balancing Maryland’s budget, we need to exert fiscal discipline and stop increasing state spending and debt.”
“In the next few years Maryland will be facing some significant challenges covering payments on the debt accrued by the O’Malley-Brown Administration,” said House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke. “We have the responsibility to our taxpayers to slow this bus down and find a way to pay for our existing debt before we take on any more.”
“Governor O’Malley received a huge Christmas gift today by the sanctioning of higher spending and increased debt under the guise of ‘spending affordability,’” said Senate Minority Whip Joe Getty. “By doing so, we reduced the options for a future governor to solve Maryland’s structural deficit burden because we’ve hamstrung future budgets with higher baseline spending and significant debt service.”
“After nearly 80 increases in taxes, tolls, and fees over the last seven years it is irresponsible to lay the foundations for yet more tax increases,” said Delegate Addie Eckardt. “Voting to expand our debt is basically voting to increase the tax burden faced by Maryland families; maybe not today, but certainly in the not-so-distant future.”
“Maryland’s families can ill-afford yet another tax increase,” said Kipke. “Supporting these increases is a disservice to Maryland’s families, many of whom can’t increase their personal spending due to additional taxes and fees. If they can’t increase their spending, the state shouldn’t either.”
Annapolis, Md. – House and Senate Republican Leaders and the State Republican Party issued the following joint statement today commenting on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Visit to Maryland:
“It is no surprise that Gov. Rick Perry sees Maryland’s businesses as ripe for a cross country move to Texas, or anywhere else for that matter. Governor O’Malley’s record of more than 70 tax and fee increases, loss of more than 90,000 jobs, and an increasingly unfriendly business climate are just the tip of the iceberg forcing Maryland’s business owners out of the state.
But there is another option. The fixes needed to ignite the economy in Maryland are simple. We must make our tax rates competitive. By doing this one thing, small and large business will not be tempted out of state to far away places like Texas or to tax-friendly neighbor states like Virginia.
Instead of following Gov. Perry to Texas, business owners should stay and fight with their vote. We can put Maryland back on track if we elect a Republican Governor next year, along with many new Republican Delegates and Senators. Republican legislators continue to present business-friendly budgets and policies and fight the tax and spend Democrat myopia. Maryland can be a business-friendly state; we just need disgruntled citizens, business owners and tax payers to use their vote to de-throne the Democratic establishment.”
The House Republican Caucus has compiled the most comprehensive list of taxes, tolls and fees increased or created over the course of the O’Malley/Brown Administration to date. The staggering list of more than 70 individuals taxes, tolls and fees is available here.
Based on data from the Department of Legislative Services, Maryland’s citizens and businesses paid over $8 billion in higher taxes, fees and tolls from FY 2008-2013. This equates to just over $4,000 per Maryland Household!
The Caucus is currently creating a tax relief package that will be a central point of our legislative agenda for the 2014 session.
On July 1st, House and Senate Republicans gathered with business owners and citizens to protest the virtual downpour of tax, fee and toll increases heaped on them by Governor Martin O’Malley. The Joint Republican Caucus hosted two media events – one in Stevensville, Md. on the Eastern Shore, and another in Frederick, Md. in Western Maryland.
“In particular, we are objecting to the Rain Tax and the gas tax increase which became effective today, July 1st,” said House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke (Dist. 31 – Anne Arundel). “We are protesting the shameful increase in tolls which, in addition to the gas tax hike, place a significant burden on Maryland drivers and commuters in particular.”
The Rain Tax, based on the square footage of impervious surfaces, will be imposed on homeowners, businesses and nonprofit entities, including places of worship in ten of Maryland’s most populous jurisdictions. These surfaces include roofs, parking lots, sidewalks and other surfaces that do not absorb rain, but deflect it. The polluted water then flows from impervious surfaces into the Bay’s tributaries and, ultimately into the Bay.
Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (Dist. 36 – Cecil) called the tax “an economy blight and a job killer.” He emphasized, “Businesses will not want to locate in a state that imposes a rain tax that can equal or exceed their property tax bill. This tax alone threatens to turn Maryland from a business-unfriendly state into a business-hostile state.”
In addition to the new Rain Tax, Marylanders will also have to contend with an unprecedented toll and gas tax increases. The per gallon increase in the gas tax, coupled with a $3.50 increase in the vehicle registration fee, will cost citizens $735 million annually when fully phased in. The gas tax will increase 63%, while the tax on diesel fuel will increase 90%. By 2015, the tax per gallon of gas will increase from the current 23.5 cents per gallon (the 29th highest in the nation) to 41.5 cents a gallon (the 5th highest in the nation). Adding insult to injury, also beginning in 2015, the gas tax will automatically increase with inflation, without any oversight or approval from the General Assembly.
“When the gas tax is added to bridge, tunnel and road toll increases, many of which have doubled, Maryland motorists will be saddled with a highly inflated driving cost,” pointed out Senate Minority Whip Ed Reilly (Dist. 33 – Anne Arundel), “and as business shipping and delivery costs skyrocket, it is the consumers who will bear the brunt of rising prices of just about all consumer goods, including food and clothing.”
“For the past seven years, the O’Malley Administration has beaten Maryland taxpayers bloody with tax, fee and toll increases,” asserted House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (Dist. 7 – Baltimore Co.). According to published reports, the total tab for the O’Malley Administration’s unbridled increases through fiscal 2014 will be $9.5 billion. “I doubt highly that during the same time period, any other state has imposed such shameful and unconscionable tax, fee and toll increases on its constituents. This Administration is inflicted with a severe case of revenue greed and the citizens of Maryland continue to be the long-suffering victims.”
Click on the following links for the official press releases and more detailed information about the tax, toll and fee increases.
Today, the House Republican Caucus issued this statement following the Joint Legislative Policy Committee Hearing on the Prison Scandal that was held on June 6, 2013:
“We found the Joint Legislative Policy Committee hearing both encouraging and frustrating. We were happy to hear long-suggested Republican policies echoed by the DPSCS leadership and District Attorneys as proactive solutions to the current crisis in our correctional system,” said Delegate Nic Kipke, House Minority Leader.
“It is frustrating that measures we have supported, such as tough penalties for possession and distribution of cell phones in prisons, are only now receiving serious consideration in the wake of a massive scandal. These are the same policies recommended by a legislative task force two years ago yet voted down by the Leadership in Annapolis,” added Delegate Kathy Szeliga, House Minority Whip.
“This is not a new problem, just one that’s been ignored for years,” commented Delegate Kipke after pointing out that there was an FBI indictment in 2009 where 24 individuals, including 4 correctional officers, were indicted for drug dealing and smuggling in illegal cell phones, among other crimes. “While we are glad to see the O’Malley Administration and Democratic leadership FINALLY taking action on this issue, we firmly believe that this scandal extends well beyond the Baltimore City Detention Center and more needs to be done to root out prison corruption state-wide.” Del. Kipke concluded.
The House Republican Caucus is pleased that two members, Del. John Cluster (Baltimore County) and Del. Michael Hough (Frederick County) have been appointed to the legislative task force that will be looking further into this issue. Both are members of Judiciary Committee and will be tremendous additions to this group based on their experience with this issue.
While both the Executive and Legislative task forces are meeting, the House Republican Caucus will be working on its own aggressive legislative package that will offer real solutions to this very serious issue, including Del. Cluster’s bill that would impose stiff penalties for illegal cell phone in prison.
Click here for the official copy of the statement.
Annapolis – Today, members of the House Republican Caucus condemned the O’Malley/Brrown Administration and Democratic Leadership in the Maryland General Assembly for their failure to address the corruption in the state’s correctional facilities.
“Republican members of the House of Delegates are disappointed in the lack of action and response by the Administration and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly in addressing the conditions that led to rampant corruption and a Federal indictment,” said House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke. “While the Governor may see this as a ‘very positive achievement’ for the state, we see great cause for alarm.”
Corruption in Maryland’s correctional system has been endemic throughout the O’Malley/Brown Administration and has yet to be addressed, despite efforts of Republican legislators working with public safety and law enforcement at the state and local levels.
“In the 2008 and 2009 session, I proposed legislation to create a substance abuse treatment program that would have redirected many gang members away from their daily drug dealing and into treatment programs,” said Delegate Ron George of Anne Arundel County. “This bill was supported by the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services as a way to rehabilitate inmates and reduce drug dealing within correctional facilities, but was ignored by Democratic leaders.”
Since 2010, legislation to strengthen penalties for transportation and possession of cell phones in correctional facilities has been before the House Judiciary Committee, but has been defeated by Democratic leadership for the past four years.
Delegate John Cluster of Baltimore County, sponsor of the legislation in 2013 said, “The Administration and Democratic leaders again defeated a bill that could have prevented or mitigated the latest prison scandal. Members of the House Judiciary Committee were presented with evidence illustrating the serious issue of cell phone possession in jails long before the Federal indictment was issued.”
This compelling evidence included a photograph of Black Guerrilla Family Founder, Ray Alevas, talking on a cell phone with top Maryland Black Guerrilla Family member, Eric Brown. This photo was taken in prison on a cell phone camera by another inmate.”Despite the evidence and the support of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Baltimore City Police Department; Democratic leaders killed the bill,” continued Cluster.”House Republicans are disappointed by inaction on this issue. It took days to hear from the Administration and hearings to address this scandal have been pushed off until next month,” said Kipke. “We encourage the Legislative Policy Committee to conduct a full investigation into all state correctional facilities that will identify ways we can work together to finally take action. While prison reform may not be a hot issue for a Presidential campaign, it must be a priority for the State of Maryland.”Click here for a PDF of the official press release.
More Articles On the Unfolding of the Prison Scandal
WJZ CBS Baltimore: Md. Lawmaker Wants Tougher Penalties For Inmates Amid Prison Scandal
Washington Post: Md. Republicans call for independent investigators for state prisons