Oligarchy Rules

The final day of the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session is called sine die, which is Latin for “without day.” After the 2011 session, which ended last night, we may have to find the Latin translation for “without shame.”

After a campaign season in which they painted themselves as fiscally conservative, Governor Martin O’Malley and the Democratic majority found new and ingenious ways to kick the can of fiscal responsibility down the road. In the face of chronic structural deficits and $35 billion in pension and retiree healthcare benefits O’Malley and the Democrats punted. The budget for fiscal year 2012 spends nearly 2 billion more than it does for the current year, general fund spending increases by $1.5 billion to make up for lost federal stimulus money and $925 million in new debt to a bloated capital budget.

Despite O’Malley’s modest pension reform plan, the budget allows him to transfer $120 million of the savings to the general fund and won’t shore up the system.

Because O’Malley and the Democrats cannot control themselves, Marylanders face a 56 percent property tax increase.

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It was not long ago Governor O’Malley said he would not submit a budget without a tax increase. That promise was broken the day he submitted his budget. Just after the election Senate President Mike Miller said Marylanders were “not looking for any tax increases,” rather for “less government.” Speaker of the House of Delegates, Mike Busch said there was “no appetite” for taxes. Yet, here we are with a 50 percent increase in the sales tax on alcohol, and $67 million in new fees, which Democrats suddenly no longer consider taxes.

The bait and switch on alcohol tax was a particularly shameful affair as advocates of the tax paraded the mentally disabled and increased funding for their care as the ostensible reason for the tax. However, once the sham of their “dime a drink” tax was exposed they moved to raise the sales tax. Only a small portion of the projected revenue from the increase is slated to go to the mentally disabled, the bulk of it will go to school construction and the general fund to backfill teacher salaries in Democratic strongholds of Prince George’s County and Baltimore City.

I guess we missed the fine print in Democratic campaign literature that stated their promises came with a November 3, 2010 expiration date. The legislature will convene a special session this fall to complete a congressional redistricting plan. And if, what Maryland Senate Republicans are saying is true, the new budget will be in the red by October, expect a new tax increases.

Now some may say this is mere Republican fear mongering. However, Maryland Reporter Senior Editor, Len Lazarick told Red Maryland Radio that Democratic Delegate Derek Davis chair of the House Economic Matters Committee admitted revenues might be looked at in the special session.

If taxpayers watching this session felt like they were staring through the looking glass, then they are going to feel like they’re tumbling down the rabbit hole come the fall.

It’s O’Malley’s wonderland and we just pay taxes to live in it.

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