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In Election Year Annapolis Should Treat Taxpayers with Real Protections, Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Contends

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(Annapolis, MD) -- In a year with the fastest proposed government growth in over a quarter-century, the "Taxpayer's Bill of Rights" (TABOR) is the right remedy to restore Maryland's fiscal health: that's the assessment of the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which joined other citizen groups in Annapolis today on the eve of the proposal's hearing in the General Assembly. NTU has over 8,700 members in Maryland.

"Once again Maryland legislators have introduced a bill that would stem the tide of government growth and finally give taxpayers room to breathe in an era of crushing taxes and bloated budgets," said NTU Deputy Press Secretary Sam Batkins. "Limiting government spending to sustainable levels, protecting surpluses from being squandered, and giving average citizens a vote over their taxes are workable concepts that benefit economies and communities in a profound way."

The Maryland TABOR Constitutional Amendment (House Bill 1444 and Senate Bill 963) sponsored by Delegate McMillan and Senator Greenip would limit state spending to annual increases of inflation plus population growth, stipulate refunds of state budget surpluses unless Marylanders vote otherwise, and require voter approval for future tax increases. These needed reforms are similar to the TABOR Amendment Colorado adopted in 1992 (Colorado currently has the highest per capita income of any state west of the Mississippi River). More than a dozen states, however, incorporate voter approval or legislative mechanisms in their tax procedures, and roughly two dozen states limit all or part of their budget increases to economic measurements such as inflation or personal income growth.

Recently Batkins examined the fiscal history of Maryland and how overspending in the state has cost taxpayers close to $9 billion in squandered savings. His study, Maryland's Fiscal Folly: The Taxpayer's View, concluded that politicians in Maryland tend to boost budgets irrespective of the fiscal climate, and by enacting real spending restrictions on government, taxpayers and even state coffers can benefit. Low-tax environments tend to create economic incentives for businesses and attract new residents, further broadening the tax base and yielding state surpluses.

"It is time the Governor and the State Legislature study the sterling records of other states that have provided vital services, and, concurrently, protected taxpayers from runaway spending," Batkins concluded. "With so much to learn, they should begin the tutorial before acting on the 2007 budget."

NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, the elimination of wasteful spending, and more accountable government at all levels. Note: NTUF Issue Brief 152, Maryland's Fiscal Folly: The Taxpayer's View, is available online at www.ntu.org.

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