A statewide teachers organization has launched a campaign to raise $500,000 to fight tax-cap initiatives in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Baltimore counties.
Michael Butera, executive director of the 42,000-member Maryland State Teachers Association, said the campaign will include a blitz of commercials on radio and television and phone banks and lawn signs calling for the defeat of proposals to limit taxation that appear on the ballot in the three counties.
The union will put up $250,000 from its "crisis fund" and will help organize efforts in each of the three counties to raise the rest through donations, he said. Organizations set up in the counties will work with the MSTA to drum up financial support from teachers and other individuals and from groups representing senior citizens, businessmen, environmental groups, minorities and the building trades, he said.
The MSTA has about 18,000 members in the three counties.
Mr. Butera emphasized that both the fund-raising effort and campaign will include volunteer work by other
groups fighting the measure, such as the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, the Montgomery County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and various firefighter and other public employee unions, building trade groups and civic groups.
"We feel there's a broad base of support, and there won't be any problem raising the money," Mr. Butera said. "The support for this is out there."
John D. O'Neill Sr., leading the drive to put a 2 percent cap on increases in Baltimore County's property tax revenues, said he was shocked that the teachers union is organizing a "large-scale campaign."
"I'm amazed they feel the need to spend that much money," said Mr. O'Neill, who noted that his group -- Citizens for Representative Government -- will probably spend no more than $5,000. He added that opponents of the measure are greatly exaggerating its effect.
Baltimore County's proposed tax cap would limit future increases in property tax revenues to 2 percent each year. Anne Arundel's would limit increases to 4.5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
In Montgomery County, voters face two initiatives -- one to limit property tax increases to 75 percent of the inflation rate, and a compromise measure that would limit them to the rate of inflation.