TAXPAYER BREAKING NEWS, April 2005, continued from Home Page . . .
April 29, 2005. Time to give taxpayers a break, says the Gazette. "County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's proposed budget for the fiscal year, which starts in July, seems crafted to meet every need -- real or imagined -- of the residents of Montgomery County. Every need, that is, save one: serious property tax relief."
April 29, 2005. Ehrlich repeats industry scolding, writes Andrew A. Green in the Baltimore Sun. "'They don't need to get dangerous. They need to get into the issues. They need to propose something,' DeMarco said. 'That's why legislators are annoyed at them. They just keep saying no and never propose anything.'"
April 29, 2004. "Different state same old song: Slots, ka-ching" writes Stephen T. Dennis in the Gazette. "There's even a Maryland connection, with Chevy Chase investment banker Jeffrey Hooke of the Maryland Tax Education Foundation and Thomas Firey of the Maryland Policy Institute issuing a report that a low 30 percent tax rate would reap a $4.5 billion windfall for track owners, including a $10-a-share windfall for Magna. The Marylanders recommended a 74 percent tax rate instead."
April 28, 2005. Board rejects property tax cut; Schaefer, Kopp oppose Ehrlich's 1-cent reduction, reports Andrew A. Green in the Baltimore Sun. "Schaefer said taking more general fund money to pay off bonds would cripple state agencies, which have been cut over the past few years as Ehrlich has solved the state's budget problems through one-time fund transfers and spending reductions rather than tax increases. The property tax increase is the only general tax increase Ehrlich has endorsed during his term; other revenue measures he has supported have been classified as fees." TBN cautions readers that neither Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union ("the car tax"), nor even the Federal government ("the flush tax") classified these general tax increases as "fees."
April 25, 2005. The Wall Street Journal on the new federal LM-2 disclosure reports and big labor's secrets. "The forms will also shine a light on one of labor's darkest, dampest, corners: trusts. These affiliates are barely regulated slush funds into which unions funnel dues and then spend at will. The Detroit Free Press ran articles in 2001 detailing three such funds that the United Auto Workers ostensibly set up to finance worker training but in fact were also used by the top brass to sponsor Nascar racing, host political parties and underwrite trips to Palm Springs. Under the new rules, unions will have to account for this trust spending."
April 24, 2005. Local budget surpluses pose a nice problem; Officials in Md. counties, Baltimore find many ways to use unexpected funds, reports the Baltimore Sun. TBN wonders whether these county politicians have any shame at all. They ask the General Assembly to let them raise new kinds of taxes, or they raise existing county taxes. This surplus money should be returned to the local taxpayers. It is not the plaything of career bureaucrats and lifetime legislators. They have an unfortunate record of continually expanding the size of Maryland government. That way, they create the need for even more taxes.
April 19, 2005. State taxpayers, business bashed by lawmakers, writes Paul Gessing, National Taxpayers Union, in letter to the editor in the Baltimore Sun. "Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s lack of joy at a recent bill-signing ceremony is nothing compared with the sadness taxpayers and businesses throughout Maryland are feeling...."
15-16, 2005. Harrisburg Pennsylvania. The
April 15, 2005. From gay rights to minimum wage, Ehrlich faced with few easy vetoes, reports Thomas Dennison in the Gazette. "In an interview, Ehrlich deflected veto talk on the gay rights and minimum wage bills, saying only that his staff is reviewing the hundreds of bills the General Assembly passed."
April 14, 2005. Anti-tax feelings grow, reports the Washington Post. "About two dozen citizens, including former county executive Neal Potter (D), showed up at the meeting holding 'Tax Cap Now' signs. 'People were shocked when they saw their tax assessments and now are worried about what their tax bills will be,' said French Caldwell, a Tax Cap Now organizer. 'I basically said we really got to make a strong visual presentation on the council, and we definitely did.'"
April 14, 2005. Lessons for Maryland: Can a Republican governor tame South Carollina? asks Charles Rowe in the Wall Street Journal. "The common themes in Mr. Sanford's broad reform agenda include market competition, fiscal conservatism and government accountability. His goals remain much the same as when he was elected in 1994 to Congress, where he supported Newt Gingrich's Contract with America, (and where he frugally lived in his congressional office). Mr. Sanford left Congress after six years, in accordance with his stance on term limits. As governor, he has encountered strong opposition from legislative Democrats who continue to fight his efforts to create private school competition to public education and to sharply cut the rate of individual income taxes. Senate Democrats, in particular, remain a force. But the governor has been unable to generate sufficient enthusiasm for his ideas among Republicans to overcome institutional opposition to reform."
April 12, 2005. Property Owners' Burden Rising; Area Home Taxes Foot Bigger Share of Government Costs, reports Peter Whoriskey in the Washington Post. "The spectacular boom in Washington area real estate prices over the last five years has been accompanied by staggering increases in home tax bills as many local governments have spurned significant tax cuts in favor of reaping billions more from homeowners."
April 11, 2005. American Enterprise Association scholar Newt Gingrich on Social Security reform: Personal accounts, period. "The problem with the message coming from Washington is that all the proposed 'solutions' to fix Social Security solve Washingtons problems not the workers. The focus needs to be on solving the workers problem, which is that Social Security pays too little, not too much."
April 10, 2005. Lawmakers OK health bill, setting up veto showdown; Flurry of activity as session winds down, report David Nitkin, Andrew A. Green and Sumathi Reddy in the Baltimore Sun. "Ehrlich said yesterday that he will veto the health bill, called the Fair Share Health Care Fund, but he expects his veto to be overridden when the Assembly reconvenes next year."
April 8, 2005. If the president is willing to take risks abroad, why won't he do it at home? asks Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review. "Calling for bipartisan efforts to cap federal spending and balance the budget, craft an energy policy involving more alternative and traditional domestic fuel sources (coupled with conservation and nuclear power), and close the borders to illegal immigration, fine employers who break the law, end ethnic Balkanization and state-subsidized bilingualism, and return immigration policy to equity and legality all that is what we might have expected of someone who remade the Middle East."
April 7, 2005. Minimum wage rise is OK'd by Maryland Senate; Assistance for low-income workers is seen as blow for business interests; Governor is hinting that he will opt for a veto, write David Nitkin and Jamie Smith Hopkins in the Baltimore Sun. "Jeff Levin, general manager at Fields of Pikesville, a business that includes a restaurant, greeting cards and cosmetics, said the governor has to go directly to citizens to convince them that the bills put Maryland at a disadvantage and could put people out of work. 'We in the private sector are looking for a governor, for our governor, to do that, and so far we are disappointed," he said. 'Political leadership, a la Ronald Reagan, is what is required. And he's not doing it.'" Jeff Levin is a Board member of the Maryland Taxpayers Association.
April 6, 2005. National Taxpayer's Union urges Governor Ehrlich to veto the "madness" of a minimum wage increase. "Economic study after economic study has shown that minimum wages - and by extension, any increase in them - do more harm than good, particularly to the very workers they aim to protect. Not only do higher minimum wages fail to raise overall wage levels, they actually reduce overall employment by making unskilled and teenage workers more expensive to hire."
April 8, 2005. Teri Ruddy of Heritage Foundation decries Maryland's "disastrous" Fair Share Health Care Fund Act. "Even if you are familiar with the bill, you may not know that it has been shopped around the country by groups on the Left (supported by the Abell Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and George Soros's Open Society Institute) hoping to get mandated business health insurance by linking their cause to the much-reviled Wal Mart. What's clever about the approach is that it ends up having the implicit endorsement of small business who see this as a way to hobble their most fearsome competitor, and also brings the enviros and smart growth crowd into the health care debate. (Small business may not be so happy when the company size provision is lowered over time to include all businesses. A likely scenario.)"
April 6, 2005. Health care tax to target big employers; Senate joins House, OKs bill that in effect applies only to Wal-Mart; Ehrlich might veto measure; Low spending on benefits would trigger penalties, reports David Nitkin in the Baltimore Sun. "'No good business goes unpunished by this legislature, 'said Sen. Andrew P. Harris, the minority whip from Baltimore County. 'And that is what this bill does.'"
April 4, 2004. Ehrlich's legislative priorities sputter as session winds down, reports Andrew A. Green in the Baltimore Sun. "But Ehrlich probably will argue that he has won key victories in spite of a legislature stacked 2-to-1 with members of the other party. Among those successes are last year's vote on the so-called flush tax to help clean the Chesapeake Bay, and an increase in car tag fees that has funded transportation projects around the state... Schaller said Ehrlich also has to emphasize his accomplishments to be re-elected. Many of his biggest victories, such as the flush tax and improvements to the state's minority business program, appeal to moderate and left-leaning voters, Schaller said. 'Ehrlich has been very adept at becoming this chameleon-like person,' Schaller said. 'The question is whether his sometimes moderate-to-liberal policies will do damage to him among his base.'"
1, 2005. Tax: It's only a word,
April 1, 2005. State's health-care system to get overdue exam, reports the Gazette. "The Maryland Health Care Commission is soon to name a task force to study how it grants, or denies, permission to add new hospital beds or expensive services, such as open-heart surgery suites or burn-care units.