Higher taxes will hurt Maryland jobs

August 26, 2011

Your editorial advocating tax increases to fix Annapolis' job-killing spending problem once again misses the mark ("Tax increases should be on the table," Aug. 23).

Government's insistence on uncontrolled, unsustainable spending has saddled future generations of Americans with record debt. Believing that significant cuts are not immediately needed is both naive and unwise.

Maryland's revenues have not kept pace with the growth of the state budget, forcing elected officials to scramble to cover billion dollar-plus deficits. In fiscal year 2007 the state budget was $29.1 billion; by 2012 that had grown to $34.5 billion.

Instead of cutting spending, elected officials used accounting gimmicks to claim balanced budgets while failing to fix Maryland's underlying spending problem.

Arguing that the gasoline tax hasn't been raised in 20 years is disingenuous. The truth is, the gasoline tax no longer supports our transportation needs because hundreds of millions of dollars have been transferred from the Transportation Trust Fund to fill the state's yearly budget gaps.

Marylanders already endure some of the highest property and income tax burdens in the country. Expanding the sales and use tax will place a third strike against businesses and individuals struggling in this poor economy. The cost of goods and services will rise significantly if transportation costs increase.

Maryland does have an opportunity to collect increased revenues from the energy industry. The Marcellus Shale deposits in Western Maryland would create an economic boom for the western counties where unemployment is high and increase revenues to the state.

Yet instead of seizing this opportunity, Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered a three-year study of the issue, meanwhile pushing wind power projects that would raise rates for consumers.

Allowing elected officials to spend, tax and hurt the business climate simply digs Maryland deeper into a financial hole that we will never get out of.

Nick Loffer, Annapolis

The writer is grassroots coordinator for Americans for Prosperity Maryland.

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