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April 9, 2009

Huh, Hell! Pay Attention!

Chris Cavey

Government grows in size and power at an inverse proportion to the apathy and non-participation of citizens. The Maryland General Assembly is proof positive of this theory because they are left to run amok, conjuring and contemplating changes in law that effects your life.


Have you paid attention to what is happening in Annapolis lately? If not, you are feeding this fire of unchecked bureaucracy. You need to care about what is happening, while it is happening, rather than complain in hindsight, when it is too late…like now.


Did you know that soon Big Brother will be watching you? Speed cameras will soon be in vogue in all jurisdictions. The current models are the big bulky box hanging on a pole, revenue generators that all the neighborhood folks know about and avoid, leaving only the unsuspecting visitor to get caught, helping your local jurisdiction overcome the O’Malley-driven revenue shortage.


Coming soon to a street near you will be the “cat’s eye.” Just like everything else, speed camera technology improves. These tiny cameras are about 4 mm in size and can be hidden anywhere, including embedded into the roadway. You will be speed checked, fined and never know where or how. After you pay your first fine, hopefully, you will send a nice thank you note to your local legislator.


The state budget bill is so huge that it is the hiding place for many items of interest. There is a move to have incorporated into this monster an Internet tax. This would tax Internet businesses that have affiliation with current in-state businesses. Basically it is a money grab, which the Democrats want to bury within the thousands of lines of wording in the budget bill.


Gov. Martin O’Malley and Democrat leaders started out this session with no passion for new taxation, at least that was their claim. Oh, what a difference a few short months can make in the world of state revenue. Apparently they are still short even after furloughing state employees and receiving the federal stimulus money. They still saw the need for a few increased fees and a new tax or two.


The slots bidding was quite a debacle. There was little interest by real businesses that are out to make profits. It was actually sad to see the reaction of the governor and his Democrat leadership buddies when their slots plan didn’t pan out. Delay – and greed – has cost the citizens of Maryland this revenue stream.


The federal stimulus money has so many strings attached it has taxpayer advocacy groups like Americans For Prosperity, increasing in supporters daily. The gift of this money to the state budget is about seven percent and will be in the revenue stream for two years. But what then?


Estimates are that it will take a 10-percent increase in revenue to catch up. If we do not maintain the same support level to local jurisdictions and to the multitude of state programs, what happens? Will citizens do without? Belt tightening? No, the correct answer is always the same from Democrat leaders – increase revenue flow. Translation: more taxes and fees in our future.


(Note the timing: The stimulus money flow will dry up after the next election cycle, so Democrats can fake their way fiscally through another election.)


We will pay the piper then, just as we did when the Maryland General Assembly convinced you back in 1999 that deregulation of electricity was a good thing. Sure we remained stable for a couple of years before the outcry when the other shoe dropped. Now fast forward to this session where those same Democrat leaders are looking to re-regulate to help the consumer. A day late and many dollars of cost added to my Baltimore Gas & Electric bill!


We, as citizens, need to get angry and take back our state and its finances; enough of the power games and political one-upsmanship. If your delegate or senator is interested in pork and power grab games, it is time they become alumni of the Maryland General Assembly before they can do more harm.


Monday is Sine Die, the last day of the current legislative session. Mercifully, the legislators will leave Annapolis, and citizens will shout praises of thanks because Maryland will be reprieved of any other additions to codified law for another nine months. “Halleluiah and Amen!”


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