House and Senate Republicans Protest July 1st Increases in Taxes, Tolls and Fees

Raining taxesOn 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.”

House Minority Leader, Nic Kipke addresses supporters and media

House Minority Leader, Nic Kipke addresses supporters and media

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.

Delegate Kathy Afzali speaks about the Gas Tax at the Frederick, Md. event.

Delegate Kathy Afzali speaks about the Gas Tax at the Frederick, Md. event.

“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.”

July 1st collage

Click on the following links for the official press releases and more detailed information about the tax, toll and fee increases. 

Bay Bridge Event Press Release
Frederick Event Press Release
Tax, Toll & Fee Increase Fact Sheets

Democrats head back to Annapolis with their eyes on your wallet!

The 430th Session of the Maryland General Assembly begins on Wednesday and the Democratic leadership is collectively salivating at the prospect of increasing your taxes claiming they have no other choice.

A 64% increase in the gas tax is one of the frequently-mentioned proposals and illustrates how completely disconnected the Governor and Democratic leaders are from the people they were elected to serve.  With, perhaps, the exception of Comptroller Franchot who has said the tax should not be increased, yet.  The Democratic leadership will tell you that this gas tax increase is desperately needed to fund transportation projects, ignoring the fact that the State Highway Administration was recently found to have hidden millions of dollars from the Board of Public Works while asking for millions in additional funding.  The Maryland Department of Transportation needs to get its fiscal house in order before asking for more of your hard-earned money.

Gas prices directly impact our day to day lives, even when we don’t drive.  Retailers and other businesses pay those higher gas prices and then pass those increased costs on to the consumer.  Then we pay more for groceries, clothing, and other goods.  People are already struggling to make ends meet, but for the Governor and the Democratic leadership the needs of Annapolis are more important.  If that were not the case then why would they push for a 64% increase in the gas tax in a year that is forecast to be the worst with gas prices reaching over $4 and possibly $5 per gallon.  Maryland’s average gas prices already increased by more than 10 cents in the first week of 2012 and yet they continue to press their case! 

But it is not just the gas tax that the Democrats want to increase.  There is much, much more.  Here are just a few of the tax increases recommended over the last few months:

• 300% increase in the Bay Restoration Fee 
• 100% increase in Emission Inspection Fees
• 50% increase in Vehicle Registration Fees
• 8% increase in the Vehicle Titling Tax

Keep in mind these proposals are on top of the toll increases that went into effect in 2011 – a 60% increase at the Bay Bridge alone which jumps another 50% in July of 2013 for a total increase of 140% by the end of the Governor’s term in office. 

Not only that, but these proposals would also be stacked on top of the tax and fee increases passed during the 2011 Session; the doubling the Vehicle Titling Tax, the Vanity Plate Fee, Land Recording fees, Birth Certificate fees; the 38% increase in the Nursing Home Tax; the 50% sales tax increase on alcohol.

Every dollar that is paid in higher taxes, tolls, and fees is a dollar taken out of our economy – citizens have less money to spend and businesses have less money to hire.  This seems to fly in the face of the Governor’s plans for job creation.

Get ready Maryland.  The Democrats are heading back to Annapolis and their eyes are on your wallet.  Can you afford to pay more?


Governor O’Malley – Just Out of Touch

Governor O’Malley has proven that he is out of touch with the realities of ordinary life in Maryland. 

With gas prices at $4 a gallon and climbing, Maryland drivers will soon experience even more pain courtesy of Governor O’Malley.  Coming this fall, they will be subject to whopping toll increases – a 100% increase at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge alone.  Not only that, but O’Malley is already laying the groundwork to push for an increased tax on gas during the fall Special Session.  This is all coming at a time when Maryland’s economy is hurting and ordinary citizens are having trouble finding jobs. Maryland’s unemployment rate is 7.3%, and that isn’t likely to improve any time soon with major companies like Northrop Grumman planning to cut over 200 jobs in Maryland by the end of the month.  This in addition to the 600 voluntary buyouts the company has planned in our state.  Last year, that company chose to locate its headquarters in Virginia rather than in Maryland.  With Maryland ranked as the 45th worst state to do business in, it’s likely that other large companies will be making choices similar to the one Northrop Grumman made, forcing out-of-work Marylanders to either commute or re-locate out of state.

Perhaps the reason that the governor seems so out of touch with the realities of Maryland employment numbers is that no one in his inner-circle has trouble finding jobs – in fact, several of them have been on the taxpayer dole for years.  The Governor himself has gone from City Council to Mayor and then to Governor (and all the time he spends picking on Governor Chris Christie makes you think he’s looking for a national run sometime soon). First Lady Katie O’Malley received a Glendenning appointment to a 10-year term as an Associate Judge to the First District Court of Maryland in 2001.  This was two years after her brother, Max Curran, received a Glendenning appointment to a 6-year term on the Maryland Public Service Commission.  (Max by the way just landed a job with O’Malley Enemy #1, Constellation Energy.  That should make family dinners interesting).  Governor O’Malley’s father-in-law, Joseph Curran III, has been a Delegate, a Senator, and the longest-serving Attorney General in Maryland’s history.  Not wanting his father in law to get bored counting his pension dollars, O’Malley appointed Curran to chair the Sex Offender Advisory Board.  But, the nepotism doesn’t stop there.  The Gov’s baby brother, Peter O’Malley not content in his post at the Maryland Democratic Party, is about to start a new job as Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Baltimore.  It isn’t hard to find work when you know people. 

But you know, maybe we’re being too hard on the Governor.  After all, he wants to give you a job too (well, if your name is Jeeves that is).  A job listing posted Thursday on the Department of General Services website seeks a Housekeeper/Butler for Government House, the home of Maryland’s governor. Starting in the mid-$30,000s, the salary is negotiable. So nice that he could open his doors and hire one of the unwashed masses.  If you’re having problems finding a job because Martin O’Malley has run employers out of the state, don’t worry!  The Governor has a job for you, provided of course that you don’t mind washing the “First Underpants”.

Press Clips

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State Delegate Plans to Renew Push for Reform