Exquisitely Poor Timing Award

This year’s winner goes to the money grubbers at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Figuring that every object and activity in Maryland was going to either be taxed or have the taxes on it increased in the upcoming special session, the CBF figured one more tax, a penny-per-square-foot tax on buildings.

Unsurprisingly, at least to those of us who have watched politicians in action over a period of years. the thought of creating a new tax while raising other taxes and not being able to point to spending offsets doesn’t appeal to any but the most rabid liberals in the legislature. The CBF was nonplussed.

It’s not easy trying to improve the Green Fund to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, especially when the governor is already pushing for eight or nine different tax hikes to plug a deficit hole.

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That’s what the Chesapeake Bay Foundation discoverd last week when it briefed lawmakers about a new version of their Green Fund plan that raises $85 million a year by tacking a penny-per-square foot fee on houses and commercial buildings.

Legislators dubbed it a new tax. Representatives of county and municipal governments complained that it was taking from one of their traditional revenue sources without giving anything back to local jurisdictions.

“I don’t know what the best label is,” said Kim Coble, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay foundation. “We’ve been calling for a dedicated funding source for the bay for three years.”

“I don’t know what the best label is.” Well, I think most of us know what the best label is and so do our representatives.

To paraphrase a quote attributed to Everett Dirksen, as far as families go, a penny here and a penny there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

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