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More taxes equal less revenue for this county

December 14, 2007

When taxes go up, shouldn't there be more revenue, as opposed to less?

That's what we thought, after a special session of the Maryland General Assembly increased personal income taxes, the state sales tax and a variety of fees.

Apparently we were wrong. According to an analysis by the state's Department of Legislative Services, this county will receive about $9 million less in FY 2009 than previously projected.

That includes as much as $6 million in aid to education, which comes from the restructuring of the Thornton Commission school funding law.

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Readers with long memories might recall that when the Thornton law was passed, Democratic leaders didn't have a mechanism to fund it past the first year.

Now the same leaders who got credit then for being pro-education have decided that it's the right time to become fiscal conservatives.

It wouldn't be so outrageous if they owned up to their earlier mistake, but voters shouldn't expect that. After all, these are the same people who championed the deregulation of electricity in 1999, then tried to blame it on Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich when the higher bills started arriving.

The cut in school aid comes as local officials are projecting an increase in local school enrollment. How the local system will educate more students with less money will be a good trick, indeed.

And speaking of doing more with less, the state government is also planning on sending Washington County about $319,000 less in highway user revenues in FY 2009.

With all of the people expected to travel through this county to play slots at a site near the Rocky Gap resort, the state might want to consider avoiding additional road congestion by busing players in, as the Atlantic City casinos do.

Finally, if this were all the bad news, Washington County could probably weather the storm. But the 2008 session of the General Assembly looms and legislative leaders will again be looking for any bit of revenue they can snatch up. The local delegation should be prepared for the legislative equivalent of bare-knuckle combat.

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