It (almost) all comes down to this.
Perhaps the most important – and controversial – issue in Maryland is money. How much of it will the state take from your wallet?
We’ve heard the litany for the last couple years: all the tax increases, all the new tolls, and dozens of other new ways the state parts you from your cash. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I went out and earned it, I consider it mine until I decide what to spend it on.
So let’s see what the three candidates in the race so far have to say about the situation.
David Craig: As Governor, I will repeal, reduce or eliminate any tax or fee that is impeding job growth – rain tax, business taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, and fuel taxes for starters. I will eliminate the tax on pensions.
Under the Maryland Constitution, the Governor controls the budget. As governor, I will use this authority to make actual cuts to the budget, and I will end the practice of attempting to fool voters into thinking spending is being reduced when it’s not. Such budget games enable politicians to carry out their real agenda which is to grow their government with your money. As for taxes, fees and tolls, those that are the most damaging to individuals and our economy will be reduced or eliminated.
As Governor, I will support withholding funds for departments and agencies that have recurring problems uncovered in state legislative audits. (campaign website)
Harford County Executive David Craig today called on the Maryland General Assembly to repeal the so-called rain tax in the next legislative session. (press release, July 1, 2013)
monoblogue: But is there any chance we’re going to see some of that stuff rolled back if you’re elected?
Craig: I will look at all of them. But if somebody says “which tax first?” I’m going to look at all of them. There are certain taxes that probably haven’t been on the table that people said, would you ever get rid of this? If the state says that we’re going to make – we have a Public Service Commission to keep your BG&E rate as low as possible, why do we tax it? Why do we tax it? If we got rid of that, it gets rid of $5 on your BG&E bill every – well, it would save you 60 bucks. And guess what? You’re probably going to spend it somewhere else.
The gas tax – I do tell people I have to be cautious to (not) say I’m going to get rid of this tax or lower this right away because – I’ll have to use the septic tax for an example – when Ehrlich was governor the septics were all done through PAYGO, so he didn’t have capital projects. This governor turned it to bonding, so if I’m stuck with paying off a bond I’ve got to do that first before I can get rid of the tax. (monoblogue interview)
Ron George: Lower the Corporate Income Tax Rate by 2% to 6.25% in 2015 and lower it .25% in 2016 and 2017 until it rests at 5.75 percent, creating an incentive for businesses to come and to stay in Maryland.
An across the board 10% income tax cut. This puts more money in the pockets of working families and helps many small businesses to grow the economy.
Encourage Baltimore City in the reducing of their property tax rates.
Repeal the Gas Tax and the Rain Tax, challenging the EPA in court if necessary.
Allow Maryland residents to receive a 20% sale tax credit on all individual items bought for over $100.00 in Maryland when they file for their tax returns and supply a proof of purchase, thus creating an incentive for Marylanders to buy Maryland goods. (campaign site)
George advocated tax cuts over tax credits, claiming that the latter is the Democrats’ way “to make you dependent.”
“You play their game, and you get a tax credit,” George said. “They’re picking winners and losers.” (Southern Maryland News, June 26, 2013)
The photo to the left is him beaming after signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a document put out as a vow between the candidate and the taxpayer, through Americans for Tax Reform. (monoblogue, June 21, 2013)
“I agree with Comptroller Franchot that we cannot afford more bond lending,” George remarked. “O’Malley is shifting today’s debt onto our children. He cannot fund the budget with existing revenue so he has backfilled the budget with bond bills.”
Del. George also noted that it was the O’Malley/Brown administration who extended our debt service from 5 years to 15 years thus creating ever increasing future structural deficits. (press release, September 26, 2013)
Charles Lollar: One solution he advocated was a taxpayer’s bill of rights (or TABOR law) like Colorado adopted some years ago. Simply put, a TABOR law means annual spending can only be increased by the sum of percentage of population growth plus the rate of inflation. (WCRC meeting, August 26, 2013)
Referring to the state of Maryland, Charles warned “we can’t afford our lifestyle,” claiming that $9.2 billion of a $35 billion state budget comes from various federal grants and stimulus money. We bring in only $26 billion of a $35 billion expense tab, said Lollar. (Wicomico County LDD, March 23, 2013)
I will immediately create an attractive business environment by proposing:
Reduction of the state sales and use tax from 6%, requested by and enacted for the O’Malley Administration, back to 5%.
Repeal the Rain Tax (the “Impervious Surfaces Tax,” requested and signed into law by Governor O’Malley), which imposes a “storm water management fee” upon Maryland landowners in ten counties to collect and treat pollutants in storm water and release it to the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries.
EPA’s decree was imposed on New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia and Maryland. Yet, only Maryland has instituted a levy on its property owners to meet EPA’s standards.
Repeal the new 24 cent per gallon added tax, which substantially increases the costs of transportation to all Marylanders and injures the ability of those who rely on water and land transportation to operate their businesses and employ others. The new O’Malley Administration tax has been added on top of all other gasoline taxes Marylanders must pay.
Repeal the Death Tax (the “Estate or Inheritance Tax”) which essentially “robs the dead” by stealing the fruits of one’s lifetime labor upon death by taxing once again your assets, already taxed during your lifetime through income and other taxes. State and federal death taxes have a dreadful impact upon many Marylanders and family owned business and farms, causing substantial financial pain to, and often the livelihoods of, family survivors forced to sell the family farm or business to pay these taxes. (campaign website)
“I would do something a whole lot different. We would start from where we were last year, go backwards 3 percent from there – let that be a bottom-line dollar figure – and then go right back to our state department leaders and say…show me or justify why it needs to be more than that prior to this budget going forward.”
“I don’t just want to balance the budget, gentlemen, I want to send refund checks back home to the citizens here in the state of Maryland.” (blogger interview, June 24, 2013)
“If someone with the fiscal experience that I have can step in there and write us a budget that puts us on track to a balanced budget, with no dependency on federal dollars, then I think I’ve done enough for the state of Maryland.”
“…if we pass a tax payer’s bill of rights and we mandate that your state government cannot grow any faster then the cost of living and CPI (consumer price index), then if your paychecks don’t grow more than one percent, neither should your state government. If we had that law passed, we would have sent checks home to every legalized, tax paying citizen in Maryland for the past eight years.”(interview, Raging Against the Rhetoric, July 2013)
Lollar would institute a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, so that government spending and taxes would not outpace the inflation rate. He would amend the state constitution to require a referendum in order to increase taxes at a faster rate than inflation. (Real Clear Markets, September 3, 2013)
Lollar, who lost a 2010 race against Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and is hoping for better results with his run for governor in next year’s election, said the state budget should start out with “what you have,” not “what you want,” as he said the current governor and Democratic-controlled General Assembly has done year after year.
“That policy is terrible,” he said, adding that the state budget is growing faster than Maryland residents’ paychecks. (SoMDNews, November 1, 2013)
If you’re looking for help on the other side of the aisle, well, good luck.
One key goal of Anthony Brown’s business ideas is “enabl(ing) state and local government to adequately fund our shared priorities.” After the 70 or 80 tax increases we’ve endured over the last seven years, one would think the funding is already more than adequate.
And while Doug Gansler doesn’t address these issues directly, Heather Mizeur is looking to yet another “sin tax” by legalizing and taxing marijuana; meanwhile, she’s also itching to tax the state’s producers. While she claims the overall effect would be “revenue neutral,” we lost money the last time this was tried.
So when I look at the candidates, I have to wonder who I think would hold the line. David Craig has a realistic view of the situation, but my fear is that we will see too much of the “look at all of them” and not enough of the repeal or eliminate. The governor has the whip hand based on his control of the budget, so it should be treated that way. The thing which worries me is that the budget will go down, but there will be the real temptation to keep the taxes to build up the “rainy day fund” or some other excuse. Out of 15 points, I can give him 11.
Ron George has the right ideas, although once again the pacing is a little slower than I’d like. While I didn’t mention it in this go-round, the auditing would be a help with the budget. It would be interesting, though, to see what his budget priorities were.
But I found it odd that he talked about tax cuts over tax credits, but proposed one for the Maryland-made goods. Honestly, that’s not going to be a great incentive for business to move here or people to buy here because it’s more paperwork they have to remember. I’d rather just cut the sales tax. So for Ron it’s 12.5 of 15 points.
The best thing any of the three main candidates have come up with is the idea of a TABOR, which Charles Lollar proposed. Its appeal is basic: there would be a spending cap for the state. Priorities would have to be set, and choices made, rather than the seemingly common belief that tax dollars will endlessly be provided. Now whether he could eliminate the entirety of the $9 billion we receive from the federal government is, to be quite honest, very questionable, but certainly getting a TABOR passed would help keep spending to a point where it’s manageable.
But the financial arena is where a populist approach works best. It’s not perfect because there are still some vague areas which need to be explored further, but this is perhaps Lollar’s strongest area and he receives 14 of 15 points.
I’m not quite done yet, though. The final part will deal with some of the intangibles I found.