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The Tentacle


March 1, 2007

Another Government Burden

Chris Cavey

If you think the notion of a special session of the Maryland General Assembly is a frightening thought, you better be prepared for a real heart stopper. If it happens - as expected this summer or early fall - the legislators will be dealing solely with the most dreaded word in the public's mind - taxes.

The management or mismanagement of money is life or death to many elected officials. Sure, we all have our social causes of gun ownership, right to life issues, death penalty and smoking bans; but most folks are reminded of those issues only when brought up as specific subjects of conversation. Taxes are with you constantly.

Each time you open your paycheck you look at the piece of the pie you worked for but has not made it into your pocket. Each time you purchase an item you are reminded that you need a little more change to pay to the comptroller's office. Every car advertisement runs the disclaimer that taxes, title fees and tag fees are not included.

The next time you hear someone say, "That's $5.13, pull around to the first window," think about this as you dig for the dime and three pennies in your car's consol, ashtray and glove compartment.

If we are in need of new tax revenue, why are we spending money for a special session to do it? Was it really that important to give this governor a "honeymoon" session? Didn't everyone realize before they got to Annapolis that there was an impending deficit? Why isn't The Sun ripping Gov. Martin O'Malley apart for not foreseeing these problems?

Very little credit was given to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., for building up the rainy day fund raped and pillaged by Gov. Parris Glendening. Now we have a first term governor, who with his initial budget returns us to the same situation as our last Democrat governor. Where is the cry from the taxpayer?

While the structural deficit looms on the horizon, our new governor is handing out 58% pay raises to a new Public Service Commission chairman, who will now be paid $33,000 more than his boss, Governor O'Malley.

The point is, not the ability of the new PSC chairman, but the size of the pay raise. Baltimore City State's Attorney Patricia Jessemy is the only other person I know who has received such a raise from their employer, which was one of the final acts of Mayor O'Malley before he moved to Annapolis.

What about the rest of the O'Malley staff? Did Joseph Bryce leave the University of Maryland as associate vice chancellor just to take a huge decrease in his family's income? Perhaps service to state government is that important to him or perhaps he just likes the view from the second floor of the statehouse. Inquiring minds want to know.

Think about what has happened in the first half of this 90-day legislative session. The press plays nice with a rookie governor. The Democrat-dominated legislature plays nice with the rookie governor.

The rainy day fund is spent down to the minimum for an AAA bond rating. Raises are given. Government starts to bloat. The pending deficit is being ignored. Then, adding insult to injury, you are told that extra money will be spent on a special session just to pass along additional tax burdens.

The future is very clear. After a very hot summer in Annapolis we will have less money in each and every paycheck starting this fall. Makes you long for the days when all you had to complain about was a "flush tax" that benefited the Chesapeake Bay.



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