Sunday, December 19, 2010

What the rest of the State thinks about MoCo

Here is an excerpt from an editorial that ran in the Baltimore Sun on December 15th. (yellow highlights my own)

Maryland's ATM?

Our view: If Montgomery County is treated as a cash cow, it's only because that's where the “milk” is found

In the tony village of Potomac, one of Montgomery County’s most exclusive enclaves, the average home sells for about $1 million, but it's not hard to find properties that list for a great deal more money. People living there generally earn more than those who live elsewhere in the county, but they also pay much more in taxes, too.

Yet when Montgomery County was struggling to pay for government services during the recession that hit eight years ago and raised property taxes at a rate higher than that of inflation (where it's normally capped by the county’s charter), you didn’t hear Potomac residents claiming they’d been treated as an automated teller machine by middle-income Wheaton and Silver Spring. Those who live so close to the nation’s capital city are more sophisticated about government, economics and democracy than that.

So it was disappointing to hear Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett tell Martin O’Malley at a breakfast meeting this week that the county that provided so many of the votes to re-elect him governor should not be regarded as the “ATM machine for the rest of Maryland.”

That Mr. Leggett doesn’t want state aid reduced next year and his own county budget woes worsened is understandable. But how disappointing for him to adopt the inflammatory language of a raging parochial. He's starting to sound like developer, political gadfly and community newspaper columnist Blair Lee IV who constantly derides the county for empathizing with the plight of Maryland's poor.

No doubt the county executive is most focused on a potential loss of teacher pension money. Right now, the state pays the full employer contribution to teacher pensions, a formula that greatly benefits Montgomery County, which not only has more teachers but pays them more money (and thus allows them to earn higher pensions) then other jurisdictions.

But here’s what happens if in closing a projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall next year, Mr. O’Malley and the state legislature look elsewhere for reductions: Poorer subdivisions will get hit harder. Is that really a better or fairer way to go?

It’s not clear whether Mr. Leggett’s remarks were directed at the governor or to placating critics like Mr. Lee. If there is a rising anger toward the governor and General Assembly for shortchanging Montgomery County, it certainly wasn’t reflected in the last election. Despite supporting the so-called “millionaire’s tax,” the temporary surcharge on high-income residents that was vigorously opposed by some in the county's delegation to Annapolis, Mr. O’Malley won re-election in the county with 68 percent of the vote. Mr. Leggett, a millionaire’s tax opponent, was re-elected with 65.5 percent.

1 comment:

  1. The argument made in the editorial (the part that is highlighted) is rebutted earlier in the editorial itself. If "you didn’t hear Potomac residents claiming they’d been treated as an automated teller machine by middle-income Wheaton and Silver Spring. Those who live so close to the nation’s capital city are more sophisticated about government, economics and democracy than that" then how does the part you highlight make any sense at all? Teachers are not residing in million dollar homes in Potomac. They are solidly middle class and should not shoulder the brunt here, just like the people of Wheaton and Silver Spring didn't 8 years ago. Total hole in the logic of this editorial and in the part you chose to highlight.

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