If you’ve haven’t taken a look at Gov. O’Malley’s proposed Maryland budget yet, do so – and weep. There’s enough idiocy in it for everybody to get a piece: more taxes for the poor (in the form of increased tobacco taxes*); more taxes for homeowners (caps on mortgage deductions) and other wealthy members of the upper professional class (caps on charitable deductions); and, of course, an Amazon tax (because this time Amazon.com simply won’t drop its affiliate program in Maryland in response, surely**). But here’s the hidden time bomb:
In what O’Malley called one of his most “controversial” proposals, he recommended shifting half of the state’s $946 million tab for teacher pension costs onto the counties.
To help ease the pain of the shift, the state would pick up half of teachers’ Social Security costs, which the counties pay for entirely.
The change would save the state $239 million.
Annnnd it will cost county governments an extra, oh, $239 million or so. You think that the state is planning to lower statewide tax rates to reflect the savings? No, neither do I. You think that Maryland’s county tax rates are going to go up to reflect the increased tax burden? Why, yes, so do I. Did Governor O’Malley just tell Maryland voters that he’s planning to put them on the hook for guaranteeing teacher pensions? He sure did! Mind you, there’s a real problem with the way that education is funded in Maryland, as can be seen by the way that everybody involved busily tries to blame everybody else. Still, there’s a point where you have to stop handing off the problem, and, well, fix it.
All in all, I can’t wait to see O’Malley’s new Cato ranking. I suspect that his 2010 B isn’t going to be replicated.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*He’s also planning to introduce another gasoline tax, of course.
**Full disclosure: I am an Amazon.com affiliate for Maryland. Who, thanks to Governor O’Malley, is apparently at risk of losing that revenue stream completely.