Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

October 19, 2013

More pain

Look for lawmakers to raise taxes even higher

Warning to Maryland taxpayers: Rough times are still ahead. When the General Assembly’s joint Spending Affordability Committee met in Annapolis last week, lawmakers were told to expect a general fund deficit of nearly $90 million at the end of fiscal 2014.

The state raised gasoline taxes this year and income taxes in 2012. Now that another deficit is predicted, don’t be surprised if lawmakers hike taxes or fees again when they next convene in January.

The Annapolis Capital reported that Warren Deschenaux, director of the office of policy analysis at the Department of Legislative Services, informed lawmakers of the state’s upcoming money problems. The state originally projected a $290 million budget surplus for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. Instead, it faces an $87.6 million deficit, Deschenaux said. The miscalculations are due in part to $264 million in potential deficiencies, including $167 million in health and mental hygiene spending.

Maryland government is feeling additional pain because of the government shutdown. The Maryland Department of Legislative Services estimates the state lost around $5 million a day in income and sales tax revenue because of the government shutdown.

“We cannot sustain this without a growing tax base and our private tax base is not growing,” Del. Ron George of Arnold, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, said. “The money isn’t going to magically appear.”

Surely Maryland legislators realize they cannot continue to raise taxes and fees year after year without hurting the state’s economy.

Cut the budget, rein-in wasteful spending and come down hard on state agencies and officials who are found incompetent. Do any of these, but do not raise taxes again next year.

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