- The Washington Times - Friday, February 3, 2012

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley may be more skilled at implementing President Obama’s agenda than the White House itself. The Democratic governor is bringing the same big-spending, high-tax and class-warfare policies to the Free State. It’s going to cost residents a bundle.

Tough economic times have forced ordinary Americans to cut back in order to get by. Not so Mr. O’Malley, who spends $35.9 billion in the budget released last month. That’s up from $34.2 billion last year and $32 billion the year before that. As Maryland Business for Responsive Government points out, the general fund budget fattened 11.4 percent last year, creating yet another deficit. This budgetary gap is covered by a combination of higher taxes and borrowing. This year’s deficit will be about $1 billion, an improvement over the $2.4 billion from a couple of years ago, but Maryland’s already large debt burden is growing larger.

Among Mr. O’Malley’s favorite taxes is his plan to impose the 6 percent sales tax on top of the sky-high 23.5 cent gasoline tax. The governor claims the increase is necessary to fund transportation projects, including the Purple Line, a $2 billion light-rail boondoggle meant to run between Bethesda and New Carrollton. This unpopular scheme could result in more than 300 families being tossed out of their homes through eminent domain.

This project is typical of leftist transportation policies that seek to redistribute wealth from automobile commuters - the vast majority - to the handful who prefer a government-subsidized ride. According to the latest Census Bureau data, only 5.2 percent of Marylanders take public transit. The absurdly optimistic forecast that 60,000 will use the purple trolley means the subsidy will be $33,000 per daily rider. It would be cheaper just to hand each of them a free car.

Raising the tax on gasoline hits the poorest families hardest because transportation represents a much larger share of their total budget, according to the Maryland Public Policy Institute. It’s also not clear how much revenue would eventually be collected, given how easy it is to reach neighboring states and the District of Columbia to fill up.

The same goes for Mr. O’Malley’s so-called “Amazon tax” to bilk online transactions. When Rhode Island tried to soak Internet retailers, Amazon pulled out, leaving the state poorer for its greed. Even a big state like California wasn’t able to get away with this. “The rich” might follow Amazon’s lead and move out, as Mr. O’Malley plans to hike taxes on households making $100,000 - or as he likes to call them: “millionaires.” In expensive Montgomery, Howard or even Prince George’s County, that amount is barely above the median.

Rather than seeking ways to increase the size of government and taxes, Mr. O’Malley ought to look to thriving states like Indiana and Texas to see what works. Less government and lower taxes are the keys to sustained economic growth.

The Washington Times

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