School construction is the latest excuse as to why the ‘bottle tax’ should be increased
When the founding fathers tampered with the ‘science of politics’ in the late 1700’s while instituting what is known today as America’s founding document, the U.S. Constitution, they realized that class warfare was always possible based on the ‘unequal distribution of property’ and certain ‘interfering interests.’ It is why James Madison articulated in the Federalist No. 10, that he realized that “enlightened statesman would not always be at the helm to manage the affairs of the people”, who he believed was the great body that government derived its powers from – whether directly or indirectly.
However, people such as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – who has already raised over 60 new taxes and fees since being handed the thrown of city government by outgoing Mayor Sheila Dixon on February 4th, 2010 – seems to have found herself in what Alexander Hamilton best described as “an unfathomable abyss, out of the reach of all reasoning” as she again attempts to raise an already regressive ‘bottle tax’ that has many residents running for the hills of the county to purchase their beverages. Now, the first term Mayor has introduced yet another ‘unfathomable’ tax increase, placing a 3-cent increase on the existing 2-cent ‘bottle tax’ that is set to sunset (expire) later this year. And her concept has many advocates and legislators outraged to say the least; however, they aren’t about to take this one lying down or bottled up.
On Monday night, the Rawlings-Blake administration introduced 12-0032 and 12-033, which would repeal the sunset provision in the existing law, while at the same time increase the tax burden from 2 to 5-cents in July 2013, generating an estimated $10-million in revenue. The Mayor’s plan would combine those estimated funds with 10 percent of the revenue the city expects to receive from its planned slots casino, along with another $12 million in savings from a recalculation of teacher pensions to create a revenue stream that would leverage $300 million in bonds for the city’s ailing schools – which leaves the city only $2.5 billion short of the goal mapped out in a 2010 study by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
And while all that may sound good on paper, and in a fantasy land apparently present on the 2nd floor of City Hall, it actually spells disaster for the many advocates and council representatives who see it as a mere pandering process of our area youth, after this Mayor was never present during years of struggle for added youth dollars. “We have been addressing the issues surrounding schools for over a decade in this city, from having to bring our own toilet paper to school, to having no AC in the summer, and no heat in the winter,” said Shaun Louis, political analyst for the Independent Movement Political Action Committee, who was a student member of the Youth Movement back in the early to mid 2000’s. “We did everything from march on City Hall, camp out over night to address these concerns to having school sit-ins and walk-outs; and never once did we hear from or receive any attention or support by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – who was both a councilwoman and City Council President at the time!” “Now,” Louis asks, “you want to go to some schools with your communication team known as the Baltimore Sun and act like your for the children and their needs?”
But despite youth sentiment against the measure, even key council members are opposed to the measure – including the Chairman of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, Councilman Carl Stokes. “We have a lot more options, other than just raising taxes every time we get in a pinch,” said the East Baltimore Councilman who said he would hold off on the bill’s hearing, at least until the Education Committee holds a hearing on the needs of the school system.
And Councilman Bill Henry (D-4th) has suggested that the Education and Youth Committee, headed by Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, have an April 25th committee hearing on school construction and renovation. “I think that it’s important for the Council to take up the issue of school construction and renovation itself, to first see exactly where we are at and what is needed; before getting into discussions about the specific revenue measures that are being suggested to pay for it.”
“I don’t believe the votes are there to get this regressive tax through the 5-member committee,” says Louis, who believes that Stokes, Henry and Branch will vote against such an unpopular measure. However, Louis also cautions that a special procedural maneuver can be made from the floor of the council after the hearing is held, to have the bill brought straight to the floor for a full council vote, unless of course Stokes and committee members work quickly to kill it in committee following such a hearing. “You know Thomas Paine warned against such a corrupt governmental process way back in 1776, which makes me believe the Mayor was around back then,” says Louis.
And that message by Paine warned that government ‘is but a necessary evil’ and ‘the badge of lost innocence.’ However, Mr. Louis also states that Founding Fathers preempted such governmental anarchy by giving the citizens the power of customary forms such as the petition, and he promises that IMPAC will have an ‘Ax the Tax’ petition measure up and running online before the week’s end! “We have to show this Mayor, and all those council members even contemplating a vote for such a regressive tax, that the community as a whole is against such tax increases, and we are tired of receiving an increase every time local, state or federal government can’t pay their bills!”
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