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Annapolis proposes a tax cut?

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, March 21, 2009

[Update] – Well it looks like I messed this one up. I misinterpreted the statement about the $60 million hit. This is just another confirmation that the state and county income tax revenues are going to be way down this year. Thanks to Warren Miller for the clarification. Ed C.

Original is below the fold if you really want to see how far off I was on this one.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ed C, General Assembly, Maryland, Taxes | Leave a Comment »

Warren Miller (R-9A) Responds.

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, February 15, 2009

On February 8th, the Baltimore Sun published Disagreement over saving county $220,00 sparks a fiery exchange.

Below is a response from Warren Miller.

Response to Baltimore Sun Article “Disagreement over saving county $220,000 sparks fiery exchange”

I would like to answer some misstatements made in Larry Carson’s February 8 article regarding our recent Howard County Delegation meeting. The meeting was to hear the County Executive’s bill to eliminate all authority the State Soil Conservation office has over the approval of future county development. The Executive’s plan involves the removal of the independent review and replaces it with the in-house review of the County Department of Planning and Zoning. It leaves little wonder as to why this bill was filed late and seemingly pushed through in the dark of the night. The proper time for this filing was before the November deadline along with all the other local bills.

This measure will force the State Soil Conservation office to lay off workers. When asked about the county’s ability to handle more workload without adding employees, Mr. Wacks became a bit tense and reacted predictably. He seemed less concerned about the accounting of taxpayer dollars and more concerned about quickly removing any accountability to the county taxpayers themselves. His indirect answer implied that the county Department of Planning and Zoning could handle the workload without additional personnel. If in fact that is the case, common sense should lead the Executive to cut the taxpayer burden of the county budget by $220,000 and maintain the benefit of an impartial review process. Since the County currently collects the fees for the Soil Conservation office, I believe the County not the State Office should reduce operations and costs.

In the past, the Department of Planning and Zoning has exhibited “political” tendencies in handing out profitable permits to certain developers. In my opinion, this is not in the best interest of the citizens of Howard County. On the other hand, the current procedure of review by the State Soil Conservation Office has historically followed a “predictable” non-political process in the issuance of county building permits.
In the Sun article Mr. Carson quotes a Howard County resident wanting to know what amount of money we consider to be a lot. This question arose after it was made clear by Mr. Wacks that $220,000 is an “insignificant” amount of money.

After a review of the County’s budget, and seeing the increase in spending in the Department of Planning and Zoning over the last two years – I have to question the Million dollar increase and addition of 5 new staff! In my opinion Mr. Wacks and the County Executive should get their own fiscal house in order first!
Mr. Wacks is obviously no friend to the average taxpayer. Over the past two years when warnings were being heard at the State and County level, Mr. Wacks aided the County Executive in spending Millions of dollars from Howard County taxpayers that should have been refunded or saved in the County’s “Rainy Day” fund, so that we would not be facing such “tough times” now.

Sincerely,
Warren Miller

Mr. Miller represents Legislative District 9A in the Maryland General Assembly

Posted in Ed C, General, General Assembly, Howard County | 4 Comments »

Republican TaxInUs Maximus Rally – Saturday 4/12 11:45 AM – 2:00 PM

Posted by Ed C on Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unhappy with Gov. O’Malley, the Special Session and the General Assembly?

The Howard County Republican Club is holding a rally April 12th (Saturday) at 5550 Sterrett Place (Across from the Columbia Mall, near the Exxon station.) to celebrate TaxInUs Maximus Day. Stop by and show you support and you can receive either of the bumper stickers (shown below) to let the Governor and the General Assembly know your feelings.

You can also get more information or a bumper sticker from the Howard County Republican Club if you can’t make Saturday.

You can watch Tom D’Asto’s appearance on Fox 45 Tuesday morning here.

Posted in General Assembly, O'Malley, Taxes | Leave a Comment »

One step away from increased transparency in Maryland Gov. spending.

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Maryland Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2008, sponsored by Del. Warren Miller (R-Howard County) appears to be one signature away from being enacted. On March 17, 2008 the House passed the bill 137-0 and on April 1, 2008 the Maryland Senate passed the bill 47-0.

From the Baltimore Sun, Bipartisanship Pays (Ulman wants to move on building repairs)

This year, Miller had 47 co-sponsors in the House, including two Democratic committee chairs, plus Howard Democratic Dels. Elizabeth Bobo, Frank S. Turner, Guy Guzzone and Steven J. DeBoy. Public interest groups also endorsed the idea, and the bill passed the House with a unanimous vote March 17.


But, on March 28, Senate Budget and Tax Committee Chairman Ulysses Currie said he would not bring Miller’s bill up for a vote because of a concern over the $250,000 price tag. Then, without explanation, Currie changed his mind, and his committee voted unanimously Monday to approve it.

Greg Fox used this bill to propose provide the same transparency for Howard County government spending that will go into effect July 2010.

The measure inspired Greg Fox, the County Council’s lone Republican member, to introduce a local ordinance to provide the same information on county spending. The bill was unanimously approved last month after Fox worked with the Ulman administration to delay the availability of the information until July 1, 2010, to fit better into technology director Ira Levy’s work replacing county finance software.

These will be great tools to enable citizens to see how our money is being spend by our elected officials.

Posted in Ed C, General Assembly, Maryland | Leave a Comment »

Technology Tax

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I don’t think I had to go to grad school to learn how regressive taxes can be to the economy.  One of the models we used last semester measured the effect of taxes on supply and demand.  Granted it was only a model (much more reliable than some of the climate change models – do you hear me Dr. Manns) but the point was that when misapplied taxes are growth killers.

That is why I think it is odd that while heading into recession (a growth killer of its own) Martin O’Malley needed to raise taxes.  Did the state of the current economy creep up on us?  No it didn’t.  We saw this coming – but instead of digging in and slashing spending it was decided that the best way to tackle an economic slow down was to take more money out of the economy.  If we are hurting now why not pile it on!

In economic terms Government spending is called an investment in the economy.  Many people will take that little piece of knowledge and try to beat fiscal conservatives over the head with it.  They want to twist that little piece of news into good news.  What they don’t want to hear is that private investment in the economy is much better and sustainable than Government spending.  In addition, there is less danger to freedom if Government is not permitted to grow.  That is what true conservatives really care about.

We are already seeing a decline in sales tax revenue because of the double whammy of higher taxes and the economy.  What kind of revenue increase do you think Annapolis is going to realize in new technology taxes?  They can only project that information.  They also projected that they will realize less jobs in this sector, which means smaller pay rolls, and lower income and sales taxes.  How do you think they balance those kinds of decisions?  These are smart people.  They know that the industry will suffer negative consequences and that this is a wealth redistribution scheme.  Do you think they cared about these technology workers and employees, and the companies (and those employees) who buy from them?  No, they felt it was an acceptable risk.

We are talking about the well being of real people.  Supporters of these taxes say it is for the greater good!  Sorry, I don’t buy it.  It is a money grab.  The business people have it and O’Malley wants to redistribute it among HIS priorities.

Today technology is not an option for a lot of companies, but there is a lot of discretionary spending in technology.  There are lots of substitute available in the market (just look on eBay).  Buyers can decide to postpone buying decisions – and according to game theory they likely will postpone buying decisions.  With the current economic environment and these taxes they are going to see a drastic slow down in technology spending.

Will the technology sector recover?  Eventually.  It usually does but it lags the rest of the economy.  The point is this.  Martin O’Malley just made the recession a lot worse for a lot of little guys in the technology business whether they work for Cisco, SAP, or are the owner of Tom’s LanWarehouse.

In the mean time he is doling out $600,000 pay raises.  Does anyone else find that to be ironic?  Do you really think Martin O’Malley cares?  He is a nice person, but he really is not thinking about these employees and small business people he is thinking about all the spending promises he made.

I voted for Ehrlich.

Maryland Computer Services Sales Tax hearings in Annapolis

Meetup: http://taxreform.meetup.com/27/calendar/7472261
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=11240944457
Follow us on Twitter @TCMMdBio

When: March 12, 9:00 AM

Where: Lawyer’s Mall Annapolis, MD (directly in front of the State House and next to the Governor’s Mansion)

Why: This new tax, which takes effect July 2008, will put many Maryland businesses at a severe disadvantage. Small businesses — the least able to sidestep the tax — will be particularly affected.  This tax will hurt the welfare of industries beyond the Tech sector and will also drive some businesses out of state! Imposing a 6% sales tax on computer services like computer facilities management, network maintenance and custom programming is bad policy.

RSVP: Brian Levine BLevine@techcouncilmd.com, Facebook or Meetup.

—–

Please mark your calendar to SPEND THE MORNING IN ANNAPOLIS Wednesday, March 12. The rally will crescendo just before 10 a.m. as legislators walk past the rally to their floor sessions in the State House.

Later that afternoon, Tech Council of Maryland staff and volunteer leaders will testify in hearings on the six percent Computer Services Sales Tax issue in both the House and the Senate. If you care about this issue, please mark March 12 on your calendars. We will need a huge business presence in Annapolis for the hearings.

Fight Tech Tax Coalition members include Tech Council of Md, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Baltimore Tech Council, the Charles County Tech Council, Montgomery County Chamber and Howard County Chamber. Thank-you for your support!

Posted in Budget, General Assembly, Maryland | 1 Comment »

Maryland Spending Web Site (MD House Bill 358)

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, February 10, 2008

Howard County Delegate Warren Miller along with Gale Bates and other Howard county delegates (Bobo, Guzzone, F. Turner) are sponsoring HB 385, The Maryland Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2008 (pdf).  This bill seeks to create a search-able web site that will allow everyone to see how the State of Maryland is spending our money.

This will be a valuable tool for Marylanders and provide a new openness and transparency to our government – let’s support this bill.

Posted in Budget, Ed C, General Assembly, Maryland | 5 Comments »

The State Legislature – How could we live without them?

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, February 10, 2008

Well, the bills are in and the schedules are being finalized. This year there are more than 2300 bills, including 1432 House bills and 849 Senate bills that will be considered in the 90 days of the 2008 session.

2300 bills? Why so many? Well one example, House Bill 380 seeks to prohibit using a text message device while driving by making it a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500. Okay, a good bill and a good sentiment – but is a separate bill for each possible distraction really necessary? Is this really the way to approach the problem? First we had cell phones, now text messaging devices and who knows what else. Would it not make more sense, be easier to comprehend and still have the intended effect to make the law apply to any distraction that causes a driver to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner? Maybe there already is a law against reading a newspaper while driving – but is that any different than reading a text message? Why make a distinction? Both are unsafe activities while driving.

Or how about House Bill 42, The Home Financial Accountability Act 0f 2008?

FOR the purpose of clarifying the availability of certain books and records kept by or on behalf of certain common ownership communities for certain purposes and to certain persons; requiring the governing body of certain common ownership communities, on request of a member, to compile and mail certain information within a certain time; making a stylistic change; altering certain limitations concerning public inspection of certain records; prohibiting certain common ownership communities from imposing certain fees other than a reasonable charge imposed on a person desiring to copy certain books and records; providing that a charge for copying certain records may not exceed a certain amount; and generally relating to access to the books and records of cooperative housing associations, condominiums, and homeowners associations.

Well first of all, if the purpose of this bill is to clarify anything, well I think it fails right here in the introduction. Certain books, certain blah blah, generally relating to zzzzz…, yea, that’s clarifying alright. The best that I can tell, this bill is to give homeowners (and others) in a co-op the right to request financial statements from their housing co-op, receive them in 10 days and they cannot be charged more than the average commercial copying charge in the area.

We have laws that require all sorts of disclosures and reporting requirements. Okay, fine. Well, as a Maryland resident, can I demand equal status from the State? Could I walk into the State house and ask for a copy of all laws and regulations that apply to me and get a copy? Would I have to pay for it? If they charged me standard copying rates, what would it cost? Would I need to bring my own dolly or could I rent one of theirs?

How would Marylanders react that if 10 days after the end of each session, the State delivered a new, complete copy of all of the Maryland statues that we are expected to comply with? Would having a stack of telephone sized books delivered to each household every year cause people to sit up and ask what are we doing to ourselves?

Would that be enough for ordinary citizens to start demanding that certain legislators take certain actions when they compile and distribute certain rules and regulations that they take actions generally relating to stylistic changes that actually make sense to everyone that thinks this sentence is BS?

Posted in Ed C, General, General Assembly | Leave a Comment »

The rule must be “When I intended to write the letter”

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, January 5, 2008

I am a big hockey fan (in fact, as of 8:07 AM this morning, FedEx is telling me that my Sidney Crosby Winter Classic vintage jersey is on the truck and should show up sometime today.) In hockey, the rule (32.2, 2006-07 Official Rules) is that a play is not over when the official blows the whistle, rather it is over when the official intended to blow the whistle. Maybe the state democrats use this same interpretation when it comes to the state’s constitution. It’s not when a letter was written or dated that is important, but rather it is when the democratic leadership decides they intended it to be written.

How else can anyone explain the fact that an assistant House Clerk backdated a document and the Maryland Attorney General defends it? Five GOP lawmakers are seeking to overturn the $1.3 billion tax hike passed during the recent “special session” due to procedural violations of the state’s constitution.

From the Baltimore Sun, Independent probe called for in session suit:

At issue is whether House or Senate legislators or staffers did anything improper in drawing up documents related to a five-day break the Senate took during November’s special legislative session. The state Constitution requires either body to seek the other’s approval if it takes more than three days off.

During depositions on Friday, the House of Delegates’ chief clerk, Mary Monahan stated that a document that was prepared on Nov 12th was backdated to Nov 9th, the last time the Senate was in session.

Feeling sick with the flu, Monahan asked Colleen A. Cassidy, an assistant House clerk, to prepare the document on Addison’s behalf, Monahan testified. Monahan said she told Cassidy to seek the legal counsel of the speaker of the House for advice on what date to put on the document. The clerk dated the document Nov. 9, the last time the Senate was in session, not Nov. 12, when the document was being created. It was not clear from the testimony whether Cassidy spoke with the attorney for the speaker.

And the Attorney General’s office view on the potential falsification of official state documents? – In the words of Gary Larson – Move along folks, nothing to see here:

“We are defending the case as completely pointless and useless,” said the [MD Attorney General’s] spokeswoman, Raquel Guillory. “We are the ones in court on the opposite side of the aisle, saying the case is without merit. So why would we go to someone else and say, ‘Investigate this?'”

Why indeed? First the Attorney General fought to block the deposition of the Chief Clerk, Mary Monahan for weeks and then we find that dates are really just nuisances when items are entered into an official state record. Does the Attorney General represent just the Democrats or the people of Maryland?

Posted in Ed C, General, General Assembly, Maryland | Leave a Comment »

The fiscal state of Howard County depends on a few very weathy tax payers?

Posted by Ed C on Monday, December 31, 2007

Did anyone tell Martin O’Malley, Mike Miller, Mike Busch and the rest of the Democrats in the General Assembly before their special session this little fact from Howard County Budget Director Raymond S. Wacks (from the Baltimore Sun, Robey urges Ulman to alter state’s view of county finances):

The county can count on a steady 5 percent to 6 percent annual increase in property tax revenues based on growing home values, but Wacks said income tax receipts can fluctuate, especially if a relatively few very wealthy taxpayers change or delay their payments. [emphasis added]

Really. With new tax increases about to go into effect in less than 24 hours, especially the ones that target those very same wealthy taxpayers, did anyone think it could have a negative effect?

Well, at least Sen. Allan Kittleman and Del. Gail Bates get it:

“Big-money people are leaving to go to Florida,” Kittleman said, explaining that several constituents have told him that they live in Florida part time and might convert to full-time residents.

Bates said the owner of a computer services company told her of doing something similar, if the General Assembly leaves that portion of the sales tax intact.

I though tax cuts “cost money” and raising taxes “made money”? Is Mr. Wacks contradicting the Democratic Party wisdom? Besides, how can the tax receipts from a relatively few taxpayers effect the county to any extent? I’ve could have sworn that I’ve heard elected officials state that the wealthy don’t pay their fair share of taxes.

Mr Robey’s implication that Gov. O’Malley and the state of Maryland will probably reward the fiscally irresponsible Montgomery County (with a projected 70 million dollar deficit by June 30th) will have to be (hopefully) another post.

Posted in Democrats, Ed C, General Assembly, Maryland, Taxes | 2 Comments »

Lawsuit Filed to Overturn Tax Increases

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, December 13, 2007

Special Session Actions Challenged on Constitutional Grounds

The Minority Leadership in the House and Senate, along with a computer services business owner from Carroll County, filed suit today challenging the constitutionality of legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the recently-concluded special session. The lawsuit was filed in Carroll County Circuit Court. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General Assembly, Maryland | 3 Comments »