I am a registered Democrat and a retired economist who tries to look at things in pragmatic terms.
On the national level, I vote for the Democratic Party and favor their positions on most issues but I am very dissatisfied with the Democratic party at the state and local level.
Anne Arundel County may have underspent under County Executive Steve Schuh to adequately maintain the county’s schools and infrastructure, but a 6.7 percent increase seems excessive to me.
With the increases in education spending projected over the next 10 years in the state passed education bill, I am suspicious of the need for a projected 101 new hires in the county on top of the all education hires and education salary increases and the big increase in the reserve fund to be used to fund capital improvements with less budget scrutiny.
A minimum general 3 percent pay hike for county employees on top of step increases seems high as well given that general inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers has averaged 1.9 percent over the last 12 months.
Moreover, if we have a recession calls for additional tax hikes to balance the budget will very likely become permanent tax hikes based on past behavior, Maintenance of effort requirements reduce budget flexibility, especially in difficult times.
Maryland already has some of the highest marginal tax rates in the country and does not index its tax code to inflation. Failure to index the standard deduction, personal exemptions, and tax brackets to inflation means Marylanders have their tax burden increase by more than inflation if there income increases at the rate of inflation.
In short Marylanders have their real tax burden rise with inflation. While the increases are relatively small each year when inflation is low, the increases compound and become large over time.
The standard deduction was not changed in over 30 years. When it was raised last year it was increased only $250 for singles and $500 for couples.
Over the last 30 years, prices increased by nearly 110 percent as measured by the CPI-W. Totally inadequate tax adjustment by Maryland government.
If politicians want to raise your tax burden they should have to vote for it not backdoor it through the tax code.
The state Democratic party has shown a strong bias toward sharply higher spending and taxes rates for decades and its behavior is a disservice to many lower income earners and retirees in particular.
As a case in point, the failure to either remove the requirement that one has to itemize on the federal return to itemize on the Maryland state return or to adequately adjust the standard deduction, personal exemptions and tax brackets to protect taxpayers that did not itemize because of the increase in the federal standard deduction was a policy directive of the state Democratic party.
The decoupling issue to protect Maryland taxpayers was not addressed in 2018 or 2019 due to opposition by the state Democratic Party.
Maryland also has some of the least favorable retirement income exemptions rules for seniors in the country and the Democratic Party refuses to allow measures increasing them for seniors to get out of committees for full chamber votes.
Because of this many retirees leave Maryland or face a lower standard of living then they should relative to other states.
Paul Sundell is a retired economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. He lives in Severna Park.