Monday, January 19, 2009

Tough words from the inside

Unfortunately, since I live in District 38B, I'm probably not going to have a Delegate who speaks in this vein for at least another two years. (Once in awhile, Delegate Jim Mathias is taxpayer-friendly but I don't really see him as a budget cutter.)

This is part of a Legislative Update that Delegate Rick Impallaria of District 7 put out:

The General Assembly seems to have a strange calm over it that I have not seen in past years -- it is like being in the eye of a hurricane. From talking to many of my colleagues, no one seems to have the courage to say what needs to be said.

I hear that "we all have to work together to meet a common goal" and "these are tough times" and "the citizens of Maryland must be prepared to tighten their belts". From my perspective this is pure B*S*. In straight-talk English this means "We, the government, the controlling party, are going to do exactly as we please. We will continue to spend your money recklessly. We are going to continue to impose more government regulations to take away your freedoms because we the government know what's best for you."

"Tighten up your belts" means "Open up your wallets because we the government know how best to spend the dollars you earn and how best to provide for your family's health and welfare."

During these tough budget times the State of Maryland has found more than $70 million to buy undevelopable swampland along the shores of the Bay. They are remapping Anne Arundel and Talbot Counties to confiscate more private property by calling it "wetlands delineation". They are pushing for more global warming regulations which they claim "could produce" between 100,000 and 300,000 jobs. I guess these salaries will be paid by the companies that will be put out of business by the overregulation.

If you thought it was tough to make a buck in the building trades, they now want to implement violations and fines on building permit holders who have projects under construction. The violations will be based on changes in the law made after construction has begun -- retroactive penalties. All this is to be carried out by departments who already say they don't have the manpower to enforce the laws already on the books.

If this sounds like insanity, it is. Welcome to the opening of the 2009 Maryland General Assembly.

I've lived in this state a little over four years now, and I've never been able to figure out why they don't try to compete better with their neighbor to the east, Delaware.

And there is more below the fold.



Let's put it this way - their state has no sales tax and apparently the property taxes are lower as well. So how do they manage to get by without those sources of revenue? Perhaps someone expert in Delaware's finances can tell me.

Apparently Maryland does as well as it does only because they happen to have the escapees from the crime-ridden, poorly-educated District of Columbia who work for one of the myriad agencies, bureaus, or departments of Fedzilla - or work for one of the lobbyists or special interests who cozy up to the legislators and regulators. That higher income equals higher income tax revenue, and the more people who work in government-related jobs the better Maryland tends to do. We didn't exactly see a large shrinkage in government over the last 16 to 20 years.

Still, I've not been able to figure out just why Maryland's budget is larger than Pennsylvania's and just barely short of Virginia's when the state is smaller population-wise than either and geographically much smaller. Where is our bang for the buck?

Delegate Impallaria asks a question we all should ask:

The question you should be asking each of your representatives is, "Will you be supporting a budget which has increases over last year's budget? Are you supporting a flatline budget? Or are you supporting a budget less than last year's?"

I for one will only be voting for a budget with less spending than last year's. And by the way, I do not support the government plans for creating jobs -- that is the task of the private sector.

Of course, there will be those who argue that Delegate Impallaria can go ahead and say these things because he's in a small minority who only can serve as the loyal opposition and has no real power. This is true, but I'd like to have some justification for each of the charges Rick makes.

What was the compelling interest in the state spending $70 million on land acquisition when they're in deficit? Would they get top dollar for land if they were to sell their "surplus" acreage?

And how about those wetlands, so-called? Is this something the federal government is making them do (and overstepping their bounds), or are the CBF do-gooders behind this attempt? What about the rights of those whose property suddenly is deemed a "wetland" - will they be compensated for their loss or are they just SOL? Can they appeal?

Then the next question about 300,000 jobs. Is that a net gain, or just a shift from the jobs which leave the state to move to less regulated areas? Seems to me the steelworkers union had some objections when the subject came up last spring.

And don't even get me started about the building industry. If anything, those regulations need to be loosened.

In all, the result of all the regulations we already have seems to me akin to the results of nailing Jello to a wall. Because we can't seem to figure out that the Bay isn't going to miraculously be clean tomorrow - even if development ceased altogether (it's damn close now) - the environmental lobby seeks more and more restrictions without considering the results of what's already on the books.

Now, if they left the laws alone for a period of time in order to study the effects, that would make more sense. But then the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other lobbyists wouldn't have a job or reason to solicit donations, so the status quo will likely remain, to our detriment.

You know, if Maryland really wanted to be a national leader in something besides liberalism, maybe they should consider a law that places a sunset period on state laws (those dealing with public safety could be excepted). In other words, laws would automatically expire in say, 10 years, unless reauthorized by the General Assembly. If it was good enough for the Bush tax cuts on a federal level, perhaps that's something we should look into.

Besides, if the General Assembly is busy reauthorizing laws they don't have as much time to dream up new ones. Wonder what Delegate Impallaria thinks about that idea?

Crossposted on monoblogue.

4 comments:

justdafacts said...

Michael - You asked for an expert Delaware's finances, which I am not, but this might help:

Our neighboring states and their localities collect taxes in ways that don’t show up on most state by state comparisons.

Whereas Maryland does not charge businesses a gross receipts tax, Delaware charges a 1% to 2% levy on almost all businesses, whether they produce goods or services. That means when you go to a tanning salon in Delaware or pay someone to cut your grass, get your taxes done, buy a book, or food, or clothing, or buy any good or service from any business that paid money to a computer service provider, the gross receipts tax is built into the price you pay.

And the impact of Delaware's gross receipt tax increases as you climb up the feeding chain. No biggie forking over 1% on top of the cost of a cord of firewood, say. But when you see a doctor in Delaware, built into the cost of your visit is the gross receipts tax paid by every provider of goods and services the doctor pays to keep her practice running.

Next look at Virginia. That darling of Maryland tax foes charges its residents a 2% personal property tax ANNUALLY (cars, boats, etc.). Maryland does not charge its residents personal property taxes. Et tu, Virginia?

The most revealing measure of combined state and local tax burdens in the 50 states, in my opinion, is state and local spending per capita. When you look at the Tax Foundation’s comparison of state & local spending per capita, the proof is in the pudding:

http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/276.html

There is no way to hide the taking of money from citizens to pay for government in this ranking. Delaware is 6th highest in state & local spending per capita of the 50 states. Maryland is 27th.

Delaware and its localities are taking more money from its citizens, be it in the form of property taxes, personal taxes (such as Wilmington’s commuter tax) or business taxes (that conservatives rightly claim are passed on to citizens in the form of higher prices and/or lower wages), than Maryland and its localities are taking from their citizens.

State by state comparisons are often blind to special service district taxation as well. Easily measured state, county, and city taxes cover government service expenditures in Maryland, but in New York where I grew up, depending on where you live, you’ll have a state income & sales tax, county sales tax, town property tax, then a whole slew of local service district property taxes such as library tax, school district tax, “firemanic district tax” (yes, that’s really what they call it), even water district tax. Sounds nuts to us, but that’s part of the Yankee “home rule” tradition of governance.

The studies that look at the big picture usually conclude Marylanders pay high income taxes, moderate sales taxes (with very limited scope–many goods and all services are exempt), and low property taxes. On the overall state & local tax burden taking all taxing into account, those studies put us right smack in the middle of the 50 states.

That was my response to Money magazine's infamous story about 15 years ago that looked only at personal income tax and called Maryland “tax hell.” – Steve Lebowitz

Anonymous said...

Given the rankings on state economy, wealth and eduastion the question should be, "Why doesn't Delaware compete with Maryland?'

Anonymous said...

Thyere is no such thing as undevelopable shoreline. Rick should know that. I bet he does.

streiff said...

that statement is only true if you take it to its logical extreme and define any area that can accept a cabin and outhouse as developable.

Otherwise, a lot of shore locations will not pass a perc test because of the high water table and the soil composition necessitating a sewage treatment plant, a water source, etc.

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