Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Safe for Another Year

Australian Green Bag
Australian Green Bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I live in Bowie, Maryland which is part of Prince George's County.  PG County, like a large portion of the state, is heavily controlled by the Democrats.   Like all good Democrats, county officials never met a tax they didn't like.  Locally, they have been pushing a 5-cent per bag on any plastic bags consumers get from the store when they do their shopping.  Their reasoning for pushing for a bag tax was to help curb litter, encourage the use or reusable bags, and to raise money for environmental projects.

Needless to say, I am against any new taxes being imposed on me.  Most of the time, I do try to use reusable bags when I do my weekly grocery shopping.  One of the reasons that I use them is that my local grocery store gives me a discount of 5-cents for every reusable bag that I use.  To me, that sort of reward is more apt to get the type of desired behavior than the punishment of paying a tax.  It also makes sense for the grocery store because it helps reduce their expense of providing bags.

In the past, I have forgotten my bags at home, or left them in the car.  The one thing I have found is that I usually end up with a lot more plastic bags on those occasions than the number of reusable bags that I would use.  I will use about 4 or 5 reusable bags on a shopping trip, whereas I would use at least 10 plastic bags for that same trip. The plastic bags just do not hold as much product as the reusable bags do.  Sure an extra 50 cents or so per shopping trip doesn't sound like much, but it adds up, especially if you are a lower income person living paycheck to paycheck.

The bag tax measured did manage to pass through the county council.  Something that I was not aware of, is that any new law for the county has to be approved by the state general assembly.  Since the state assembly is heavily Democratic, and a similar measure has been in place in neighboring Montgomery County, I figured it was a done deal.  Surprisingly, the measure was defeated in the state Senate by one vote as the county did not show with enough specifics how the measure would improve the environment.  I fully expect it to come back like the proverbial bad penny next year.

While us PG County resident have dodged that particular tax burden this year, that is not to say our tax worries are behind us.  Governor Martin O'Malley has been pushing for more and more tax increases.  He has been pushing for an increase in the state income tax with a surtax for higher earners.  He continues to push for an increase in the gasoline tax.  At one point, he was asking to have the state sales tax apply to gasoline on top of the current flat gas tax.  Now he says he would consider raising the sales tax from 6% to 7% in lieu of the gasoline tax.  He says he is flexible.  Yeah, as long as he can raise taxes, he is flexible as to the form of the tax.
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