Ehrlich's property tax increase was miniscule

September 28, 2010

Surely the Sun must know that Gov. Martin O'Malley's ad highlighting Bob Ehrlich's so-called 48 percent property tax hike is actually intended to cleverly deceive the vast number of uninformed Maryland voters into believing that Mr. Ehrlich's action must have been a big reason their property taxes have skyrocketed. In actual fact, of course, the increase only affected the miniscule state portion of the overall property tax at the time, with the tax rising from 8.4 cents per $100 of assessed value to 13.2 cents during the first three years of Gov. Ehrlich's administration and dropping back to 11.2 cents in 2006 (where it remains today) during his final year in office.

It was one of several fiscal measures he was forced to put into place to confront the looming multibillion-dollar deficit and the $1-2 billion Thornton unfunded mandate inherited from a profligate Glendening administration and Democratic General Assembly in 2003. Even after the increase occurred, the total state bill represented barely 5.65% of the Baltimore City property tax and 5.35% of city taxpayer's overall total property tax, with increases generally occurring in the $20 to $50 range per year.

Though your paper has often sought to strike a balance politically, as you did in recognizing Gov. Ehrlich's "signature achievement" in promoting charter schools against all odds, your gubernatorial adwatch doesn't do your paper credit for uncritically accepting the O'Malley campaign's assertions at face value while it smears Governor Ehrlich. Shedding crocodile tears for Maryland Public Television reporter Jeff Salkin for a grossly unprofessional O'Malley ad while saying that Bob Ehrlich deserved everything that was thrown at him in the same ad is ludicrous in the extreme.

Dick Fairbanks, Baltimore

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