With his own Democratic Party controlling both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly by wide margins, Gov. Martin O'Malley's radical agenda passed this year without the drama or political fireworks of previous sessions. O'Malley's victory over compliant legislators burnishes his already strong credentials as a tax-and-spend progressive intent on turning this once moderate state into California East.
Unfortunately, Maryland taxpayers have little to celebrate. They will be clobbered with the 37th consecutive state tax increase they've been forced to endure since the former mayor of Baltimore moved to Annapolis and began his all-too-successful campaign to turn the entire state of Maryland into a larger version of that one-party liberal dystopia.
Criminals in Maryland will no longer have to worry about being sentenced to death for particularly heinous crimes. But law-abiding citizens will be plenty worried that they don't run afoul of what will soon be the strictest gun control laws in the country — including submitting to a new fingerprinting requirement in addition to Maryland's existing universal background check and seven-day waiting period if they want to purchase one of a dwindling number of legally allowed firearms to defend themselves and their families.
O'Malley's political cronies will soon get generous tax subsidies for their offshore wind farms, while Maryland consumers get stuck with higher energy bills. Meanwhile, Maryland motorists will be hit with an 86 percent increase in the gas tax to replace the $1 billion that was removed from the Transportation Trust Fund and spent on nontransportation programs on O'Malley's watch.
And with expanded early voting and same-day voter registration, O'Malley and his fellow Democrats in Annapolis are making sure that they'll be able to continue their tax-and-spend policies for some time to come. Surveying what he's done since 2006 to reduce the private sector and expand state government, the governor must be feeling pretty good about his 2016 presidential aspirations.
But for Maryland taxpayers, the only good news is that the inevitable backlash has already begun.
Larry Hogan, chairman and founder of the nonpartisan group Change Maryland, says 10,000 state residents — including Democrats, Republicans and independents — nearly tripled the membership of his grass-roots organization during the 90-day legislative session. Opposition to this year's $800 million tax hike — the second highest since 2007 — is growing as Marylanders start to realize that the already high cost of living in O'Malleyland just went up again.