Sine die at last

Tomorrow evening at midnight the end of 90 days of peril to our basic freedoms comes to an end. There was a possibility that the session could have been extended for another ten days but the state budget passed yesterday, leaving no reason to prolong the agony.

While the radical environmentalists will certainly whine about some of the items on their wish list being watered down, the end result is that their allies in the General Assembly made quite a bit of progress in their direction. It would be like winning a ballgame 4-3 instead of 13-3 – the statistics aren’t fattened up as much but a win is a win and they received quite a few in the session.

Meanwhile, those of us who favor a leaner, more efficient government continue on a multi-year losing streak thanks to those who inhabit the side across the aisle – you know, those who like to buy votes by promising just enough goodies for the electorate to feel like they’re getting something but not enough to actually help them succeed in life. Unfortunately, our side can’t seem to gain any ground.

One example is having the so-called “tech tax” repealed. Is it a victory? For those in the IT business of course it is. However, this victory is solely Pyrrhic for a number of reasons, three of which I opine here:

  • In return for the tech tax being repealed, the General Assembly continues to believe that budgeting is a zero-sum game. In order to “make up” for that “lost” revenue, they increased income tax rates for those Marylanders who are successful enough to be in the upper income brackets – including, I’m sure, a number of those IT businessmen who now avoid the dreaded sales tax on their services.
  • The tech tax was simply proposed as an extension of the sales tax to a new service. There are a number of other services that may not have the lobbying firepower or have gained favor with a powerful member of the General Assembly that may end up in the crosshairs when the next budget crisis hits, probably as soon as FY2010. While this particular door was slammed shut, we know that at least one bill was aimed at enhancing that sales tax revenue source by adding other services.
  • Finally, while the GOP fought this battle as best they could, they made a tactical error in my judgment when they proposed an alternate budget which still included all of the other tax increases that came into effect at the beginning of the year. Nor could they even be a unanimous vote against the bloated state budget.

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Worst of all, we will have to go through at the very least FY2011 before any relief is possible and the chances of it are dubious at best with the stranglehold Democrats have on three regions that together control 66 seats in the House of Delegates and 22 Senate seats. It would take the convincing of voters outside Baltimore City, PG County, and Montgomery County that they have to touch the screen next to the Republican to have any sort of fiscal sanity in this state to have any hope beyond that.

Until then, the rear guard action needs to be united and in the face of the majority. I have no tolerance for the sheer ignorance that passes for legislation in our General Assembly and you shouldn’t either.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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