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.