Mar 16, 2012
The Legislature of the State of Maryland has decided to address its budget crisis by raising taxes.
While all Marylanders will pay more in taxes by adding a 0.15 to 0.25 percent increase income tax. Hardest hit are those making above $500,000 who were hit with a greater tax increase.
The change would increase the tax rate for anyone making over $500,000 — roughly 15,000 households, according to the comptroller’s office — from the current 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent.
And, unlike the way Maryland usually assesses taxes, the new 5.75 percent rate would apply to every penny, not just the earnings over $500,000.
The Legislature also increased taxes on cigars and some items purchased online.
The increase follows a the largest hike in toll fees for Maryland bridges, tunnels and roads in the history of the state which took place in November of 2011.
The Maryland Transportation Authority board voted in September to impose the toll increases, setting Nov. 1 as the effective date for the first round.
At the three Baltimore Harbor crossings — the Fort McHenry Tunnel, the Harbor Tunnel and the Key Bridge — drivers as of Tuesday pay a $3 cash rate each way instead of the $2 they’ve been kicking in since 2003.
On the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, as Interstate 95 northeast of Baltimore is known, the basic northbound toll has risen from $5 to $6. At the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Susquehanna River on U.S. 40, the same rate applies.
On the Bay Bridge, where a bargain $2.50 toll had been frozen in place since the 1970s, motorists’ luck has run out. The rate is now $4 — collected eastbound only — at least sparing drivers the ordeal of fumbling with change. In Southern Maryland, users of the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge found they, too, had to pay $4 instead of the previous $3 to make the southbound Potomac River crossing.
And if one increase is good, two increases must be twice as good:
Feb 25, 2012
Way back on August 13, 2011, we wrote how Obama had compared his health care proposal to the United States Postal Service.
Explaining why he believes a public option would not crowd out and ultimately eliminate private insurance, Obama said, “My answer is that if the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining…then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time. I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”
What was amazing about the statement was that in comparing the USPS to his proposed plan, and comparing private insurance companies to FedEx and UPS, he was making the argument of how inefficient and wasteful ObamaCare would be and how it would not be able to be successful if allowed to compete “head’s up” with private insurance companies. He was, in fact, agreeing with opponents of ObamaCare and saying the plan wasn’t sustainable in the open market.
In August, we mentioned the staggering losses of the USPS and the affect that might have on the USPS itself.
On February 9, 2012, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe issued a statement saying the losses for the USPS during the first quarter of the fiscal year (October 2011 – December 2011) were $3.3 billion dollars. Projected out over the course of the year, that is over $10 billion in losses.
The USPS continues to look aggressively at closing post offices, ending Saturday delivery and ways to handle benefit and pension commitments.
One way to cut costs that is now in the works is the closing of half of the USPS mail distribution centers. The closings will result in the loss of 35,000 jobs.
Predictably, the Postal Workers Union is not happy about this.
Feb 3, 2012
Damn those Southerners. From the time the United States of America was formed, the South has been hostile to minorities. It is always the states in the North that are models of tolerance and equality. After all, look at Jesse Jackson who rails against racism in the Southern city of Chicago. Uh… sorry. That can’t be right. Well, then we have Al Sharpton who constantly points to racism in one of the South’s biggest metropolises, New York. No wait. That can’t be right either. Chicago and New York aren’t southern states.
Okay, it is those Southern redneck guys that are racists. You know, the ones that live in small to mid sized communities. They must be the ones that are keeping minorities down. Right?
Many people that travel across the country and have lived in multiple places will tell you that racism is much worse in the northern areas of the country than in the south. That is not to say that race relations are perfect south of the Mason Dixon line. What is being said is the idea of northern states being less racist than their southern brothers is am outright lie. It is the elitism of intellectuals from the North who like to look down their noses at those in the South and proclaim superiority in racial matters without a basis in fact.
Their continued sense of superiority is proof of that adage “if you tell a lie enough, people will believe it as truth.”
The Florida Today newspaper summarizes a report commissioned by the Urban Institute:
Jan 30, 2012
Here we go again with a series of “Quick Hits,” – items that are too short to make full post from, but are worthy of notice. At the same time, we have included the obligatory “Rule Five” image with a football theme for the upcoming Super Bowl.
And we’re off……
Maryland’s “Dream Act” is back in court. The “Dream Act” in Maryland requires the state’s colleges and universities to charge in-state tuition rates to those who are in the country illegally. The student must have attended a Maryland high school for 3 years and their parents must have paid Maryland State income taxes to qualify for the in-state tuition. Many people in Maryland objected to the new law and secured enough signatures to have the Dream Act placed on the November ballot. Proponents of the measure sued to have the measure thrown off the ballot claiming the signatures collected were not legal. That attempt failed when it became clear the opponents did have the required number of legal signatures.
Now the charge is the measure cannot be on the ballot because Maryland law does not allow referendums on government spending. Opponents of the measure say the Dream Act is a spending measure as the amount of money allocated to colleges depends on how many in-state students there are. Opponents claim the Dream Act applies to what the student pays, and not how the state funds the discounted rate.
The irony here is that the proponents of the measure have argued the lowered rates will not affect government spending or cost more in taxes. Now they are saying the referendum is illegal because it deals with spending.
We wish they would make up their mind.
Florida is looking at a law that would allow parents to fire teachers.
Two pieces of education legislation are on the table in Tallahassee. Under the Parent Empowerment Act, parents would have the power to fire school staff if they feel the school is not up to par. Under the Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools Bill, teachers would actually grade parents on their involvement in childrens’ schooling.
On the flip side, legislator has proposed a bill that would allow teachers to “grade” parents of elementary school children.
Dec 28, 2011
The “Patriotic Millionaires,” who we covered before, made an appearance on Capital Hill on November 16, 2011 to lobby for higher taxes on the wealthy.
The so called “Patriots” made visits to Democrats on the Budget Super Committee saying the Democrats should reject any Republican proposal that does not increase the taxes of people making a million dollars a year.
In a statement to the press, the group outlined their goals and reasons for being on the Hill saying:
We have actually undermined the employment gains our economy made in the private sector by firing thousands of workers in the public sector. Just to emphasize this point, we have been firing people who WORK FOR US because we are unwilling to ask a few of the more fortunate Americans to pay exactly what they were paying a few years ago.
Private companies are great – they are critical to our society – most people around me work or worked for private companies. But private companies don’t work for US – they don’t work for the American people as a part of their mission. They work for profit and for their shareholders – and they should.
The disconnect here is staggering. Essentially, these moguls of industry are saying that they aren’t hiring people because it is not profitable, but are demanding people pay for public sector jobs without any accountability to whether the job is needed. They want people to be hired in the public sector so the public will be doing what they will not – hiring people.
The statement also includes this:
Dec 20, 2011
One of the problems facing the City of Baltimore is property taxes. It is not just that people believe that taxes are too high, but there is a disparity in what people pay in taxes, even those living in the same neighborhood with homes appraised at the same value.
The reason has to do with Maryland’s tax credit given to homeowners. Maryland law allows a maximum 4% increase in a tax bill to homeowners, even if the property value has gone up dramatically.
As the Baltimore Sun explains,
Here’s a simplified example of how the city’s 4 percent homestead cap works: Say you buy a home worth $100,000. At the city’s current tax rate of $2.268 per $100 of value, you pay $2,268 in annual property taxes. Next year the house is reassessed at $120,000, but instead of paying 20 percent more your tax bill rises only 4 percent.
If you had owed taxes on the full $120,000, you’d be paying an extra $363. That untaxed amount is the homestead credit, money forgone by the city.
And if the home’s value keeps rising more than 4 percent a year, the size of the credit keeps growing too. During the middle of the last decade, annual property values rose at a double-digit pace. As a result, many owners saw the size of their credit snowball.
But the homestead credit disappears after a home is sold. The new buyer pays the full bill and only begins accruing his or her own credit after the first year — assuming values rise fast enough.
We should note the Baltimore Sun is a fairly liberal newspaper. For example, notice how the paper labels tax money people do not pay as “money forgone,” as if the money belonged to the city – and not the taxpayer – to begin with.
Right off the bat, you have a law that has people in similarly assessed homes to be given a tax bill for a different rate. Compounding that is the fact that an investigation by the Sun showed homeowners were taking tax credits on multiple homes, when the law only allows the deduction for a primary residence. The investigation also showed a wide disparity of home assessments to similar homes in the same neighborhood, as well as assessors not noting improvement to homes and errors in data entry into the property tax accounting system.
Sep 20, 2011
Our friend William Teach over at the Pirate’s Cove takes note of President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on income of those making over one million dollars a year from all income to a percentage equal to that of middle-class taxpayers. Teach rightfully says that Obama, won’t write a check to the IRS himself to show actual leadership in this area, but will demand sacrifices from others.
(And even worse, despite the speech he demanded to make in front of Congress a week and a half ago, the press conference in the Rose Garden last week talking about how he wants to pay for the jobs bill, and another speech in on Monday, Obama still has not sent any actual legislative proposal to either the House or the Congress. This follows “pass the bill now” being said seven times in the Congressional speech.)
President Barack Obama will propose a new higher tax rate for millionaires, the White House confirmed Saturday, giving his deficit-cutting proposal a populist sheen that will invigorate the Democratic base but draw swift opposition from Republicans.
He will call it the “Buffett Rule,” a nod to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has criticized a system that allows the rich to pay a smaller portion of their income in taxes than middle- and working-class Americans because wages are taxed at a higher rate than investment income.
Aug 5, 2011
In our depressed economy, there is at least one bright spot: “Assurance Wireless” is doing a booming business. So booming that Assurance added 640,000 customers in the second quarter of this year – far outpacing any other prepaid cell phone company.
Assurance and its customers should be thanking you for the growth in the market. After all, you are paying for the phones and the service.
You read that correctly.
You are paying for the phone and the service.
Under a $4 billion dollar a year program, the government through Assurance, provides prepaid cell phones for people with low incomes. The money for the program is taken from the Universal Service Fund that appears each and every month on your cell phone bill. The money gets funneled through the government and ends up going to Assurance who then gives low income people the phones and up to 250 free minutes of use each month.
We here at Raised on Hoecakes are believers in the “free market.” People, not the government should decided the winners and losers in the marketplace. Therefore we believe that programs such as this not only are wasteful, but they skew the market. If people want a cell phone, let them buy one.
That was before we found out that having a cell phone is a “right.” Well, it is a contributory factor in a right – the right of “peace of mind.”