Pittman Doubles Down on Broken Promise

On last week’s Red Maryland Radio, we talked about news from the Maryland Association of Counties Winter Conference that Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman was looking to the General Assembly to allow counties to raise income taxes even further than they already are.

The news was broken by the Maryland Republican Party.

Pittman talked more about his new tax scheme to The Capital:

County Executive Steuart Pittman’s administration is talking with local state lawmakers about legislation that would permit counties to impose higher income tax rates on the highest earners, often called a progressive tax.

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The legislation would give counties the authority to implement those tax structures but not require it, Pittman said. The county executive has previously floated this idea, most recently when he presented at the Maryland Association of Counties winter conference last week.

There was no vote on whether to put the MACo stamp of approval on it, Pittman said, but generally, there was a message of support.

He declined to say which state lawmakers his administration was working with on the proposed legislation, but focused on the legislation’s potential impact on the county. Pete Baron, the county’s government affairs officer, said he had been working closely with Montgomery County on this legislation.

“Both Democrats and Republicans realize we have to protect and rebuild the middle class,” Pittman said. “It’s disappearing.”

Now, on one hand, none of this is all that surprising. Anne Arundel County is one of the counties on the hook for double-digit increases in education spending based on the flawed Kirwan Commission recommendations. It’s also less surprising when you remember that Pittman spear-headed massive and historic income and property tax increases on Anne Arundel County residents earlier this year.

But it’s also very cleary that Pittman is living in a fantasy world, a product of his naiveté and his complete lack of leadership experience prior to taking over Anne Arundel County government and his lack of preparedness at actually thinking he was going to win this election.

Pittman tells the Capital’s Olivia Sanchez:

Pittman said he didn’t expect much pushback on this, because even if the bill passed, it would still be up to local officials to pursue changes. The county executive said he would push for the tax changes in his FY 2022 budget, which is approved by the County Council.

“I can’t see why anybody would oppose unless they are actively trying to protect the top 5% who got the windfall from the federal tax cut and make sure the money stays in their pockets,” Pittman said.

Except it’s already very clear that even legislative Democrats aren’t necessarily on board with this. Sanchez notes that she reached out to Delegate Mark Chang, Democrat and chairman of the Anne Arundel County House Delegation, didn’t respond for comment. Democratic Senator Pam Beidle took a walk on commenting by claiming that “she had never served on a money committee”.

It’s obvious that even Pittman’s fellow Anne Arundel County Democrats don’t want anything to do with this. They probably understand that, seeing as how Pittman is working with radicals in Montgomery County on this plan, that Montgomery County politics aren’t all that popular in Anne Arundel County.

Pittman also claimed there was a “message of support” from attendees at MACO? Which is a completely useless statement since MACO hasn’t taken a position on this bill, nor did Pittman identify any people who actually express their support.

The crux of Pittman’s argument in pushing for this progressive taxation is that he wants to tax the people who “benefitted” from federal tax cuts passed by the Trump Administration. Of course, Pittman provides no data to actually back this up. That has a lot to do with the fact that there were very few Maryland taxpayers who benefitted from the Trump Tax Cuts because the tax cuts included a reduction in how much can be claimed in the SALT (State and Local Tax) deductions. Since Maryland already has obscenely high state and local taxes, few Anne Arundel County residents benefitted from these federal tax cuts to the extent intended, if at all.

Now Pittman also said that he wants to introduce this “progressive” taxation so he can raise taxes on wealthier Anne Arundel County residents and (in theory) lower rates for less-well-off county residents. As we have seen time and time again, it never actually works out this way: Pittman and his cronies will merely seek to raise rates at the top bracket and keep rates stagnant at the lower end of the bracket. On top of that, we also know how Democrats like to implement their progressive tax structures; they’ll basically classify anybody who is even lower-middle-class as “rich” and look raising rates on practically everybody under the guise of helping “working people.” The traditional Democratic playbook to “soak the rich” often implemented by rich folks like wealthy horseman Steuart Pittman.

If Pittman wants to pay more in taxes, I’m sure the county would love to accept his donation. Or he can decline to take his six-figure county salary.

The striking thing about Pittman’s plan is how once again it does not take into account economics or the real realities of tax hikes. We’ve talked previously, when it comes to state taxes, about how money walks. How easy it is for a business to relocate across state lines, or how people of means can move to a lower tax state. Obviously, the same thing can happen when it comes to implementing higher and higher county taxes as well. It’s much less disruptive to somebody’s life to move from Anne Arundel County to a lower tax county like Queen Anne’s County, or Harford County, or Carroll County than it is to move to a completely new state. Pittman’s higher tax scheme, like every Democratic scheme to soak the middle class, is predicated on the faulty premise that there is never a reaction to higher taxes that causes people to leave. And it will happen. And it will cause a degradation of the tax base, meaning lower overall tax revenues and higher taxes on the middle class.

This is a good time to remind you about Pittman’s pledge during the election last year that “I believe that we can meet our needs with projected revenues.” Yet here Pittman is, months after a massive tax increase, pushing for enabling legislation to allow for even more tax hikes and with no interest in finding efficiencies in county budget or just shrinking the size of county government.

Guess Pittman figures that once you’ve lied to the voters once, just keep lying. So why not double down on the lie.

As I wrote in the Capital, wealthy horseman Steuart Pittman really needs to go back to the farm. Because Anne Arundel County residents are facing long-term economic damage thanks to the reckless and misguided priorities of a very naïve executive.

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