Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Maryland Special Session

This almost falls into the category of Why I'm a Democrat, but not quite.

My disorderly party, frequently know for fights among its own members, showed again why it is often its own worst enemy when the Democrat controlled Senate and House of Delegates in Maryland failed to pass a budget by the end of the regular 90 day session.  It's one of the reasons I'm amused when the Maryland GOP decries the control Democrats have over the legislature and executive in Maryland, bemoaning one party rule.  There's no unanimity among Democrats, so there's never any danger of one party hegemony.  Of course, the other amusing aspect of the Maryland GOP's lament is that they don't have a similar concern about one party rule in, say, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas.

Anyway, here's The Sun article on the results of the sesssion.  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-special-session-day3-20120516,0,2008676.story

I couldn't find the article from the previous day that broke out by Maryland county where the tax increase would effect people.   This tax in crease is only on the top 14% of incomes in the state, so 86% of Maryland residents are facing no tax increase at all.  Of the 14%, the increase will range from 1/4% to 3/4% over the current taxes.  So, for all the GOP cries of economic collapse from this increase, we're talking miniscule sums to these particular high income earners.  On average it'll be a few hundred dollars for each of these households. 

This is a far more fair tax than the 1% increase in sales tax that was the last effort to balance the budget.  That's a regressive tax that disproportionately falls on the lower income earners.  As a percentage of income, it's a far larger hit to the poor than these few hundred dollars is to the high earners.

Now, the item that's something of a point of pride for me as a Democrat is who voted for this.  Aside from a few dissenters in Montgomery County, the Democrats who passed this are passing this as a hit on themselves and their constituents.  Of the 14% of all Marylanders looking at a tax increase, 75% of them live in Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties.  They and Prince George's County are the core of the Democratic voting block that conrols the legislature.  Almost all of the Republican controlled counties, where opposition lies strongest to this tax increase, each have less than 2% of the population that will face this tax increase.

Democrats should be standing up and saying, look, we did what had to be done to balance the budget and retain the spending priorities important to Maryland voters.  We did it and we paid for it with a tax increase on our own, not the voters who dissent from responsible governance.  Democrats need to sell responsible governance as a give and take.  Responsible governance is compromise.  This is a prime example.

They should be embarrassed that they had to call a special session to do it, but when they met in that session they did it right and did it promptly.

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