- - Thursday, October 2, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Lawmakers in Maryland and the District of Columbia are never at a loss for coming up with clever new ways to collect revenue and expand the intrusiveness of government. One-party rule in Washington and Annapolis is becoming more expensive.

In the District, gym memberships, tanning salons, yoga classes, car washes and deliveries of bottled water, among other services, are now subject to a 5.75 percent city sales tax, which is levied as though residents were not already donating heavily to the municipal war chest through surcharges and fees at every turn.

The extra cash will help the city pay public employees to take eight weeks leave after the birth or adoption of a child, or when an employee says a family member has a serious health condition. The effect of such policies on productivity never occur to officials in these Democrat-dominated strongholds.

The Maryland suburbs of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties just hiked the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.40 an hour, en route to $11.50 hourly by 2017. The increased cost of doing business will surely be passed along to consumers. The attitude among liberal County Council lawmakers there — most, if not all, of whom have never run so much as a lemonade stand, much less a tanning parlor — is that it’s not their problem.

Mom-and-pop entrepreneurs who feel otherwise have already begun voting with their feet, moving across the Potomac River to the more business-friendly climate in Virginia, taking their jobs and tax payments with them.

Maryland consumers will feel the pinch when ordering online and being hit with a 6 percent “Amazon tax.” The Web shopping giant opened a new distribution center in Baltimore, giving it a “physical presence” in the not-so-Free State, which means it will be forced to collect the levy on the state’s behalf.

Virginia stands in contrast to all of that legislative lunacy in its northern neighbors. With tax-hiking Republican ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell out of the picture, and Republicans in control of both houses of the General Assembly, the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year came and went largely unnoticed. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, didn’t even bother proposing tax hikes to close a budget gap, knowing they’d be dead on arrival.

Help may be on the way for beleaguered Marylanders in a state that Democrats have ruled for decades. Eight years of profligate taxing and spending by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley are having an effect. New polls this week showed businessman Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for governor, within striking distance of Mr. O’Malley’s would-be successor, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. Mr. O’Malley’s flush tax could finally be what sends Maryland’s one-party rule down the drain.

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