Well, we had a Special Session. Your General Assembly met for three days in May just for the purpose of a tax increase.
The failure of certain new taxes during the regular 90 day session that ended in April was termed “Doomsday” by our governor. He fixed the problem by calling the legislature back to do it over. The legislature promptly raised income taxes on the “wealthy” as defined as $100,000 for an individual or $150,000 for joint filers, but also raised taxes on children by dramatically reducing the personal exemptions.
Less reported, and more complicated, will be the impact of other legislation that will also increase taxes. The state passed several new MANDATES on to the counties that will force the counties to raise taxes and will dwarf the new financial pain inflicted by the state.
State politicians afraid of the political fallout of imposing ever more taxes and fees have fully embraced a whole new political strategy, pass responsibilities on to the locals and let the counties raise the taxes. That shoe has yet to drop, as counties across the state are scrambling to determine their liability under the new state laws.
The Special Session continued the attack on the locals by shifting $238 million dollars (SB 1301) in costs to the counties for the payment of teacher pensions. The cost of teacher pensions have been paid by the state since 1920 but the state now finds it easier to shift the cost to the counties than find a permanent solution for the fund that it has underfunded by $19 billion.
In addition, the legislature passed HB 987 Stormwater Management that will force the counties to raise $6.3 Billion in fees over the next 15 years. To quote the Department of Legislative Services, “Legislative Services advises that … total storm-water related costs for local government to comply with the Phase II WIP are estimated to be about $6.3 Billion through 2025″, or about $482 million yearly.
To pay the $482 million counties are mandated to develop a new fee on impervious surfaces. So your house, garage. shed, driveway and even pool will receive a new tax.
SB 848 Education – Maintenance of Effort is the most egregious. It says that if even if your county feels squeezed by the additional $238 million in teacher pension costs, and the $482 million in stormwater management costs, your county is still responsible for hefty increases to the school board, the pension payments and new school construction not withstanding, and that if your county slips, the state can step in and seize county money. SB 848 also invalidates county property tax caps, including Anne Arundel County’s 20 year old voter imposed cap, so the counties can pay for all the new mandates.
This heavy handed attack on the locals by state government will have a huge impact on our county and dramatically scale back other county services. It is unfortunate that several of our Anne Arundel County representatives supported these bills.