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The Tentacle


April 1, 2004

A Profile in Courage? Raising Taxes?

John P. Snyder

Say this for the Maryland Speaker of the House, Michael Busch (D., Anne Arundel), if you don't expect too much of him, you'll never be disappointed.

Two years after the Thornton Plan for improving education in the state was passed, he and his liberal cohorts devise a plan to pay for it. To the surprise of no one, his idea is to propose the largest tax increase in Maryland's history. He calls this courageous. Others, including many in his own party, call it a huge blunder.

What is it with liberals and taxes? We all know that deep down they believe all money should go to the state. It's only their largesse that allows citizens to keep some for themselves.

Their new tax package takes an additional $1 billion from the hands of the workers and places it into the state's coffers. Mr. Busch claims

that the average Marylander will pay an additional $20 per year. Who believes that?

They also aim to raise taxes on the wealthiest of Maryland families. They never define wealthy, of course. But consider how hard a family must work to live in a community where the average cost of a house nears $300,000. Double that, of course, in Montgomery County, where residents feel they don't pay enough in taxes.

The story never changes. Maryland is a prosperous state that has a revenue stream unlike any other state.

Maryland residents pay enough in taxes. Their government spends too much. Since no one has the stomach to cut services, revenue must be found to pay for the increase (roughly $1,500 for every student in Maryland dictated by the Thornton plan.

No one has suggested slots are an unlimited gold mine. It just happens that Maryland is sitting on the 5th most lucrative gaming market in the country. Those who are skeptical should consult gaming officials in Delaware and West Virginia. Maryland residents foot the bill in those two locales.

Opposition to slots, as advanced by testimony by Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran and Congressman Wayne Gilchrist (R., 1st) sounds so arrogant and elitist that it makes one wince. The vast majority of slots players do so with no harmful after effects. Those few who abuse the system to their detriment should not be allowed to restrain the large majority of those who use slots responsibly. End of story.

Raising taxes in a recovering economy is a bad idea. This sentiment was shared by 22 Democratic delegates from outlying areas that voted against Busch's tax proposal.

Not surprising, our lone Democrat in Annapolis, Delegate Galen (One and Done) Clagett found a way to avoid even voting on this package. He had received an opinion from Attorney General Curran's office that was ambiguous at best, but which allowed Mr. Clagett to sidestep the issue because he owns a property management firm. Seems fees charged by such firms will be taxed under Busch's proposal.

Since Gov. Robert Ehrlich will veto any tax increase, as well as the Maryland Senate being unlikely to approve anything that large as what the House passed, some compromise will have to be struck. Without such a compromise, the slots legislation will not see the light of day either.

It's unwise to expect Mr. Busch to act responsibly. It's better not to expect anything from him.

That way you'll never be disappointed.



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