By Representative Andy Harris
While Maryland families and job creators are struggling in this tough economy, Annapolis and Washington are making it harder for them with higher taxes and more burdensome regulations. Just last week, the Maryland General Assembly took the final step to approve a 20-cents-per-gallon gas tax. This tax will make it more expensive for Maryland families to fill up their gas tanks and hurt businesses. Cecil County gas stations will be affected because people will drive to Delaware or Pennsylvania for cheaper gas. Marylanders will also begin paying more at the grocery store because of higher transportation costs. What started out as just a tax on a gallon of gas will turn into another government-caused burden on hard working Maryland taxpayers and job creators.
As if the gas tax hike didn't do enough to raise the price of gasoline, President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled new draft environmental regulations recently about emissions and gasoline standards. These regulations will increase the cost of making gasoline, likely raising the price of a gallon of gas another 9 cents. More regulations from Washington are the last thing Maryland families and businesses need right now.
I visited a number of small and medium-size Middle Shore businesses last week. One was a boat manufacturing company whose business was doing fairly well, but the owner was worried about new emission mandates from the EPA and changes to the ethanol content of gasoline. Ethanol is mixed into the gasoline we use to power our cars, but it can damage marine engines. I will be monitoring this situation closely to protect those who use boats for their work or recreation.
The increased fuel prices are on top of other numerous tax increases that both Gov. O'Malley and President Obama have supported. Over the course of his time in office, O'Malley has raised taxes and fees 35 times. His hike in the sales tax hurts businesses in border counties like Cecil because it provides a greater incentive for people to drive to tax-free Delaware to shop. All of us remember when our paychecks were 2-percent less on the first of the year because President Obama got his way to increase the payroll tax.
To alleviate the burden on families and get our economy growing again, we need to chart a different path. We can only get there by lessening the tax burden on families and small businesses, reducing energy costs, controlling government spending, and decreasing burdensome regulations. The House Republican budget that I recently voted for does this.
Closer to home, Cecil Countians have seen this kind of fiscal responsibility firsthand. Under the budget proposed by County Executive Tari Moore, the people of Cecil County will once again not see a tax increase. I commend her work and the work of the new County Council to ensure that Cecil County's government lives within its means; just like families across Cecil County have to do each and every day.
We are seeing two very different approaches as to how our government should be run. Gov. O'Malley and President Obama believe that government should play a major role in your life. The result is higher taxes, more government spending, and greater regulations. County Executive Tari Moore and I believe that you; not a government bureaucrat; are best suited to make decisions about your life. We think you should be keeping more of your hard-earned paycheck and that government should be spending your tax dollars wisely.
I will continue fighting in Washington for a government that works for you; one that respects your pocketbook and enhances your freedom.