Maryland General Assembly Favors the Wealthy and Connected
The fact that the country is politically and socially divided can be seen this presidential season as voters are rejecting establishment politicians and flocking to Trump and Sanders. These voters may sense that income inequality is only widening and the rules of the game are rigged in favor of the wealthy and politically powerful.
This division at the Democrat-controlled Maryland General Assembly is only getting wider. Liberal extremists from Montgomery County, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Frederick counties and Baltimore City want to strip off of any executive power of Gov. Hogan and implement a new system transportation funding with “Maryland Open Transportation Investment Act of 2016” , (cross-filed SB 908/HB 1013 ). These bills are designed to divert precious transportation funds from poor rural and semi suburban counties to senseless transportation projects in wealthy Montgomery County. County residents opposed such projects when County Executive Leggett (D) pushed the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The County Executive tried to established the Independent Transit Authority to independently impose and collect additional taxes and seize residents’ property for this project but the residents widely rejected this idea due to the cost and lack of practicality. Mr. Leggett wants to build the BRT anyway, but this time it will be built on the back of the poor rural Marylanders.
BRT is just one of the Leggett’s urban fantasies of Montgomery County mass transit projects that not only will not relieve any traffic congestion but, instead, create even more congestion.
BRT buses will move through already congested county roads. In some cases, the bus lanes will be built in medians, but in most cases existing traffic lanes will be lost to BRT use only (like HOV lanes). But the BRT will have no parking for commuters and rely instead on Ride-on feeder buses. Blair Lee, former columnist for the Gazette newspaper, observed the typical BRT experience, “I wait in the rain outside my home for a feeder bus to take me to a BRT depot that lacks any parking. I board the BRT bus which drops me off eight blocks from my workplace so I wait for a local bus (it’s still raining) to get me there. After work, it’s the same process, in reverse. You call this “improved mobility”, I call it waiting for three buses.” Even that assessment charitably assumes walking access to the Ride-on buses at both ends of the trip. And county leaders want to add into this mix, the progressive Portlandia idea of bikeways.
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Abruptly this March, Leggett canceled all advisories committees on BRT and wants to expeditiously move forward with the $1 Billion, by modest estimates, BRT project. During a recent press conference, County Executive Leggett stated that BRT “will include specially-branded vehicles and rail-like stations with amenities such as level boarding and real-time bus arrival information. . . . The $6.5 million for planning and design of the US 29 BRT service will come from the six-year capital budget and will not require a tax increase” because rural and remote suburban counties will pay for it.
Furthermore, a Montgomery County government sponsored website stated that there is “$5 million of funding for the State to continue BRT planning on the MD 355 corridor. The County Executive has called on the state to match the County’s $5 million funding to continue the BRT planning on MD 355 to a Locally Preferred Alternative. He has also encouraged the State to continue planning and design efforts on the Corridor Cities Transit way and the Veirs Mill Road BRT corridor.”
Despite Mr. Leggett’s claims that he will not increase the property taxes on already overtaxed Montgomery County residents, he proposed a major tax hike, almost 9 percent , in order to sustain the unaccompanied minors population growth that is coming from socio-economic troubled countries .
The State of Maryland taxpayers already have begun funding the Purple Line light rail that will connect the Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. In the meantime, the Maryland roads and bridges are overdue for repair. Maryland has 80 bridges with structural problems that were neglected by O’Malley (D)administration.
One must wonder who are the people behind these two radical bills HB 1013 and SB 908 that want transfer wealth from the poor and lower middle class people and send hardworking rural people’s taxes to Maryland’s wealthiest counties. Who are these lawmakers? They are Delegates Beidle (D-Anne Arundel), Lierman (D-Baltimore City), B. Barnes (D-Prince Georges and Anne Arundel), Branch (D-Baltimore City), Brooks(D-Baltimore County), Busch (D-Baltimore City), Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) , Fennell (D-Prince George’s ), Frush (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel), Haynes (D-Baltimore City), Healey (D-Prince George’s), Hixson (D-Montgomery ), Holmes (D-Prince George’s) , C. Howard (D-Prince George’s), Krimm (D-Frederick) ,Lafferty (D-Baltimore County), McCray (D-Baltimore City), McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), Moon (D-Montgomery), Reznik (D-Montgomery), Tarlau (D-Prince George’s), and P. Young (D-Baltimore County). Today is another hearing on these bills.