Hope Is Not A Method
There are a couple of stories today that work well together especially if you are interested in how liberals operate in elected office. The first is titled Counties fret over deficit.
It is hard to see how anyone can deny that Maryland’s counties have been the most successful porkers at the public trough. They have increased their workforce and given their workforce substantial pay raises, averaging 4% per year, while state workers and the private sector have received much less. They are now about to learn that it isn’t good to be the biggest, fattest hog when slaughtering time comes around. They’re crying that it isn’t fair.
“It’s just irresponsible,” said Frederick County Commission President Jan H. Gardner, a Democrat who is also the president of MACo. “Seventy-five percent of what we do is public education and public safety. People want good public education, and they certainly have an interest in public safety.”
Counties have taken on a lot of functions beyond necessity based on the availability of state revenue. While a lot, or even most, of these functions could be useful the question has become one of paying for them. The Maryland counties know that absent state money these services will go away because the residents will not pay for them.
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There’s good reason for local governments to worry. During the last major state budget crisis, in the early 1990s, the state passed along hundreds of millions in cuts and new expenses to the counties, forcing many to increase taxes. By 1994, a full-scale tax revolt was under way, with voters pushing for tax caps.
The second story, naturally, is from that very safe and prosperous city, Baltimore. There the city government’s behavior resembles having a crack addict living in your house. In Cracking the Nut we are introduced to Baltimore’s plans to raise taxes. This in the context of a state budget crisis and an alleged plan to attract families brought to Maryland by BRAC to live in Baltimore.
The Committee on Taxes and Fees has been reviewing sacred cows (a sanitation fee instead of financing trash pickup through the property tax), identifying new income streams (a city sales tax), and daring to include unpopular measures (a 1 percent commuter tax).
The group’s menu of options so far undercuts the notion that the city can’t afford to reduce the property-tax rate.
For example, a 1 percent city sales tax would generate $62.1 million, allowing for a 20-cent reduction in the tax rate. The difficulty: It would require approval from the state legislature, which may be looking at increasing the state sales tax to offset its budget woes.
This is lunacy. Baltimore is losing population, despite its inherent safeness, the odds of the state legislature voting to increase taxes on their constituents who work in Baltimore is slim, and a higher city sales tax doesn’t , at least to me, seem like a real compelling selling point when convincing families or businesses to locate in Baltimore.
The next year is going to be interesting as the venture marxists that rule Maryland grasp with the twin concepts of unfairness and limited revenues.