- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Monday, Maryland residents will begin noticing their wallets getting a little lighter as we witness the implementation of a stormwater utility fee (“rain tax”) and increases in tolls and gas taxes. We are witnessing tax increases at an alarming rate under the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley — and if the one-party rule in Maryland has its way, we will continue to see more of the same tax-and-spend mentality.

We are experiencing a spending problem in our state that stems from a lack of leadership, not a revenue problem. The burden is placed continually on the backs of hard-working Marylanders.

The state’s 10 most populated counties will implement a “rain tax” as required by state law. The revenue, we are assured, will be used to fund watershed-protection and restoration programs designed to prevent pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay. This “unfunded mandate” is a result of another “unfunded mandate” from the federal government. Are we really interested in more mandates?

It is important that we not forget that Mr. O'Malley admitted during a televised interview that he had raided the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund to pay for unrelated transportation projects, ensuring taxpayers that he had replaced those funds with IOUs. Mr. O'Malley claims the transportation fund is running out of money and that the revenue generated by the gas-tax increase is necessary to pay for billions in future projects. Currently, the tax on a gallon of gas is 23.5 cents; it will increase by almost 16 percent on Monday. By 2018, Marylanders could see a 90 percent increase in the state gas tax.

It is important to note that according to the Tax Foundation’s analysis, as of January 2013 Maryland’s gas tax was the 29th-highest among the 50 states, and upon full implementation of the increases Maryland will rank among the 10 highest. We can no longer afford the tax-and-spend mentality that currently exists in Annapolis. We must work together toward a pro-growth economy focused on bringing good-paying jobs back to our state and by putting forth a comprehensive tax-relief package, by protecting the middle class from unnecessary and high taxes and by getting our spending under control.

It is time we elect those who understand their role is that of citizen representative and not lawmaker, people who understand that their greatest responsibility is putting people first.

PRESTON PRATT

Lusby, Md.