Monday, June 13, 2005

Love note to Steve Hill

Steve Hill of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute is your lighthouse in the fog-bound Maryland State budget process. My mental image of Steve's work comes from those 1930's prison movies where the cons try to break out only to be caught in the guard's searchlight beam. Steve is the guy with the searchlight . . . and the ability to read mounds of legislative prose to discover the single phrase that's going to cost us taxpayers big bucks. Not that I'm implying anything about the lobbyists' impact on Maryland's legislative and executive branches . . .

I'm sure the Gov would love it if Steve's searchlight beam were dimmed. After all, Steve is the guy who discovered the corporate tax loophole that permits multi-state corporations to scam their way out of paying any Maryland corporate tax. Meanwhile, Maryland's instate business people pay their tax in full to make up for the budgetary shortfall.

We have a name for the Maryland business people who think Governor Ehrlich represents their interests: "Chickens who vote for Frank Perdue."

I attended a budget committee hearing in Annapolis during the last legislative session where they heard testimony regarding a modest proposal to increase Maryland's corporate tax rate from 7 to 7.4 percent (don't hold me to those exact percentages). Maryland's patriotic and civic-minded business associations responded with the usual cries of, "It will mean the end of civilization as we know it." Well maybe, but corporate taxes were NOT raised and now Maryland's individual taxpayers are feeling the crunch.

We, in higher education know what the budget shortfall means: Continue to provide well educated new employees to Maryland's companies, but don't spend any money doing it.

Hey, the good news--the budget crunch has simplified the hiring process at Maryland's public colleges and universities. We only ask applicants one question, "Can you do the work of two people without whining?" (I shouldn't tip off the applicants, but there is only one acceptable answer, "Yes, but I'll need an assistant!")

Check out Steve's Maryland Policy Blog. Hats of to Mr. Hill.

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