Hi. Steve Schuh, sitting Delegate and Tea Party Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County Executive, voted for a tax to pay for the remediation of storm-water runoff. When it rains, some of the rain that lands on “impervious surfaces,” such as your roof or a shopping center parking lot, makes its way to the Bay. That’s not a good thing. We need to so something about it and so it was decided that there should be a special tax to pay for special projects that would protect Maryland’s greatest natural resource. So far, so good.
So what’s the big deal here? That Steve Schuh voted for the Rain Tax, twice as his detractors like to remind us, is troublesome for two reasons. The first is that, while saving the Bay from storm-water runoff is good, the form of the tax, the bill the Legislature passed is ridiculous.
Only 10 of the Maryland’s 23 counties plus the city of Baltimore are responsible for 100% of the tax. It’s as if the rain doesn’t fall in the other 13 counties. The Chesapeake Bay is a state resource which from which all Marylanders benefit. The cost of protecting the Bay should be shared by everyone. By concentrating the burden on just 10 jurisdictions, the tax is an unfairly severe burden on Anne Arundel County households and businesses, in particular, who have the most impervious surfaces on which rain.
To make matters worse, each of the nine counties and Baltimore City were allowed to define their own rain taxes. And they did. What a mess. Some counties did their best to respect a bad law. Others, like Frederick County had the balls and good judgment to tell the state to go screw itself, and that’s putting it politely.
These problems with the tax notwithstanding, Steve voted for it.
Perhaps even more important, that Steve Schuh supported the Rain Tax, while opposing virtually every other tax that came up for vote over the past eight years, shows confusion and a lack of any common sense understanding of government.
The problem is that Steve’s support of the Rain Tax is part of a pattern…
1. He voted for the Rain Tax.
We just talked about that.
2. He thinks that replacing the county’s 12 community high schools with 24 neighborhood high schools over the next two or three decades will improve the quality of public education.
His plan is unimaginably expensive. It’s long-term. There’s no evidence that it will improve the quality of public education. In fact, there’s evidence to the contrary. It’s a form of de facto segregation because it traps children in their neighborhoods. And his proposal completely misses the fundamental truth that buildings don’t teach our children, teachers do – the finest teachers, earning competitive salaries, not just in high school, but in the county’s elementary and middle schools as well.
3. He wants to cut the property tax rate by 3% because he believes that, somehow, over time, the savings will attract new business and employment to the county.
A 3% cut in the rate is a savings of only $27.30 per year per $100,000 of assessed value. His personal success in business aside, he has no idea what motivates economic development or how long it takes. And the 3%? Collectively, it pulls $18 million out of the county’s budget. That’s the equivalent of 400 new teachers, police officers and/or firemen and women that the county will no longer be able to afford.
Steve has since reconsidered his 3% cut, now declaring it conditional on $70 million of annual growth in county tax revenues. $40 to $50 million per year is the recent norm.
4. He signed Delegate Mike Smigiel’s pledge and became a founding member of the House of Delegates Tea Party Caucus, but now doesn’t mention that affiliation in any of his campaign materials. Was declaring for the Tea Party something he just did on the spur of the moment, but now regrets and yet hasn’t recanted? Or does his charter membership in the Tea Party accurately reflect his points of view, but he’s concerned that publicizing it will cost him the election?
What you’re seeing in these 4 numbered points is a pattern. It’s the behavior of a candidate who doesn’t do his research and who doesn’t think things through. What you see is a candidate who isn’t prepared to manage the complex government of a county of over 550,000 people who need and deserve a thoughtful County Executive who makes sense and who they can trust to do the right thing.
This pattern… This impulsiveness and uncertainty are yet another reason not to vote for Steve Schuh.