The General Assembly is about to reconvene a special session to pass new taxes to make up for its failure to complete the budget during the regular 90 day session that ended April 9, 2012.
The failure to pass the planned $300 million in new taxes has lead to a month long wailing of interest groups that claim that there is no way for the state to survive with this “Doomsday Budget” that only allows $700 million more over last year. They say a special session is necessary and crucial to fix the problem.
Never mind that Anne Arundel County actually comes out ahead under the Doomsday Budget by more than $8 million, as do most other counties. The real story however was the damage done to Anne Arundel County in SB 848, a school funding bill which states: “not withstanding any provision of a county charter that places a limit on that county’s property tax rate or revenues … a county governing body may set a property tax rate that is higher than the rate authorized under the county’s charter”.
With hardly a second thought, the state legislature struck down one of Anne Arundel County’s most beloved institutions. With arrogance and indifference common in Annapolis, the state legislature wiped out our twenty year old property tax cap.
The 1992 “voter imposed” limitation on property taxes has allowed the county to maintain one of the lowest property tax rates in the state and prosper while still increasing school spending by $200 million ANNUALLY over maintenance of effort in the last ten years. With that one provision the legislature wipes out one of Anne Arundel County’s greatest grassroot movements, and similar property tax limitations in Prince Georges, Talbot and Wicomico Counties.
No, it is not the Doomsday Budget that you have to worry about, it is the bringing back of 188 legislators with a single focus on new taxes. Hold on to your wallets.