Wednesday, September 25, 2013

JUICE: Gansler's Kickoff, D15 Candidates Forum, Lower Corporate Taxes in MD vs. VA, MoCo's 10-Line Transit Network


Below Maryland Juice provides a few news items of interest to Free State politicos:

JUICE #1: WHO ATTENDED DOUG GANSLER'S CAMPAIGN KICKOFF IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY? - Attorney General Doug Gansler kicked off his gubernatorial campaign yesterday in Rockville, Maryland. Several politicos asked Maryland Juice who attended the event, and I was able to compile the following list of MoCo officials who attended. Note that I have no idea if these folks are actually endorsing Gansler, so don't read too much into this without asking them yourself:
  • Comptroller Peter Franchot
  • Senator Jennie Forehand
  • Senator Rich Madaleno
  • Senator Karen Montgomery
  • Delegate Charles Barkley
  • Delegate Al Carr
  • Delegate Susan Lee
  • Delegate Luiz Simmons
  • Delegate Craig Zucker
  • Councilmember George Leventhal
  • State's Attorney John McCarthy

JUICE #2: MEET THE DISTRICT 15 DELEGATE HOPEFULS NEXT TUESDAY 10/1 - Now that Delegate Brian Feldman has been appointed to replace Rob Garagiola in the State Senate, the MCDCC will next select a replacement for Feldman's D15 Delegate seat. The District 15 Democratic Caucus is holding a candidates forum next Tuesday, October 1st and is inviting members of the public to come and meet the Delegate hopefuls (excerpt of details below): 
D15 DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: The District 15 Democratic Caucus invites you to attend a Candidates Forum on October 1st at 7pm at the Up County Regional Services Center at 12900 Middlebrook Road, Germantown, MD 20874. The Forum will provide a place for residents seeking the appointment to the open District 15 seat in the Maryland House of Delegates to introduce themselves to Caucus members and the general public. After the forum, the candidates will have an opportunity to informally socialize with members of the audience, Caucus officials, and others....

Candidates who desire to participate in the Forum shall notify the District 15 Caucus of their intent to participate by 5:00pm Monday, September 30, 2013, by replying to this email....

JUICE #3: STUDY SAYS MARYLAND'S EFFECTIVE CORPORATE TAX RATES ARE LOWER THAN VIRGINIA'S - Like in Maryland, officials in the District of Columbia have been embroiled in a minimum wage fight in recent weeks. Not surprisingly, DC officials are also discussing the city's corporate tax rates, and some Democrats are suggesting that the city's taxes need to be lowered to compete with Virginia. But an article in The Washington Business Journal yesterday highlighted a new report from the D.C. Tax Revision Commission suggesting that not only are the District's effective tax rates comparable to Virginia's, but that Maryland's effective corporate tax rates may be lower than those in Northern Virginia. In a comparison of DC, Prince George's and Northern Virginia corporate taxes, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties are actually listed as having the lowest effective tax burden of all the local jurisdictions (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL: D.C.’s reputation as a high tax jurisdiction may be fueled by its highest-in-the-region corporate income tax rate of 9.975 percent, its nearly 10 percent business franchise tax rate and complex rules for pass-through entities, especially where Virginia residents are concerned.

But the overall tax burden is a combination of every levy, and D.C. fares quite well when they’re all tossed together. The study compares, in a variety of situations, what a fictional corporation with $30 million of total revenue and $2.4 million of income before taxes would pay in D.C., Alexandria and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Fairfax and Arlington counties.

In the case of a corporation with a single location, the business would pay $263,738 in annual taxes to the District, $264,424 in Arlington, $261,574 in Alexandria, $246,432 in Fairfax, $220,418 in Prince George’s and $216,378 in Montgomery.

If the business has no taxable income to report (and many do not, some by design) then D.C.’s relatively low gross receipts tax and its healthy incentives for qualified high technology companies keep it competitive with Maryland, while the Virginia burden can soar as a result of the Business, Professional, Occupancy License tax, according to the study....
Notably, The Washington Post reported last month that Attorney General Doug Gansler called for a lowering of Maryland's corporate tax rate, citing an unfriendly business climate compared to Virginia (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Douglas F. Gansler, a leading Democratic hopeful for Maryland governor, said Thursday that he wants to cut the state’s corporate income tax rate to the same level as Virginia’s, embracing a cause that has been pushed primarily by Republicans.

Gansler, Maryland’s attorney general, said that reducing the rate from 8.25 percent to 6 percent would help the state compete for jobs against Virginia, which he has repeatedly characterized as more aggressive and business-friendly than Maryland....
This political movement for a corporate tax cut in Maryland reminds me of other misleading advocacy we've seen in the Free State in recent years, with some Democrats alleging our state is business unfriendly and misleadingly claiming millionaires were fleeing Maryland for Virginia.

David Moon at Rapid Transit press conference
JUICE #4: MOCO COUNCIL BEGINS HEARINGS ON RAPID TRANSIT PLAN, WHILE VIRGINIA WILL OPEN TWO RAPID TRANSIT LINES NEXT YEAR - In Maryland Juice's opinion, one area where Virginia has been making itself more competitive than Maryland is in getting transportation infrastructure built more quickly than in the Free State. Virginia officials succeeded in funding the new Metro Silver Line to Dulles and are now building two "bus rapid transit" lines in Alexandria and Arlington. Virginia also passed a transportation funding package this year and many believe that their effort to raise these infrastructure funds was critical in pushing Maryland lawmakers to adopt their own transportation funding plan. 

In an effort to preempt our own growing traffic and environmental problems, Montgomery County officials are proposing a 10-line Rapid Transit System (RTS) that would run modern buses in dedicated transit lanes along many major transportation corridors throughout the county. The plan has support from a range of environmental, civic, and business groups including the local Sierra Club, CASA de Maryland, MoCo Young Democrats, Jews United for Justice, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and more. The County Council held the first of two public hearings on the project last night, and the news media is now tuning in to the debate in Montgomery County. Below you can see two quick articles on the MoCo RTS plan that appeared this morning in WAMU and Bethesda Now (excerpts below):
WAMU: A coalition of 32 groups representing civic associations, environmental activists, smart growth advocates, and real estate developers testified in favor of constructing an 80-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) network in Montgomery County over the next decade during the first public hearing held on the issue by the County Council Tuesday night.

The hearing officially began what will be a months-long public process that will culminate in county legislators deciding whether to build what observers say is the most cost-effective way to cope with crushing traffic congestion. Montgomery County’s population—already bulging at one million people in 500 square miles—is expected to grow substantially.

“Our task force recommended a 160-mile system. An [80-mile] system is a good start. We hope it gets fully implemented and when it is successful the county will add additional corridors,” said Mark Winston, the chair of county executive Ike Leggett’s transit task force and chairman of the group Communities For Transit.

While building heavy Metro rail costs hundreds of millions per mile (see: Silver Line; 23 miles, $6 billion) or a light rail system costs tens of millions per mile (see: Purple Line; 16 miles, $2.2 billion), bus rapid transit is relatively cheap. Winston estimates the county’s BRT network could run $15 to $25 million per mile in capital costs. During the hearing a representative of Leggett’s office was unable to provide a cost estimate.

The BRT network will require building new lanes for buses as well as repurposing existing car lanes with traffic signal prioritization, otherwise the express buses would just sit in traffic with everyone else....
Alexandria is constructing a BRT network which is set to open in 2014 consisting of a new median bus lane along most of the route and repurposed curb lanes within Crystal City. Other major cities are pursuing BRT; Cleveland, Oakland, and Los Angeles have decided to dedicate general traffic lanes just to transit. 
Full disclosure: As noted in the Bethesda Now article below, Maryland Juice blogger David Moon is currently working for Communities for Transit, a nonprofit group conducting public education activities on the Montgomery County Rapid Transit System (excerpt below):
BETHESDA NOW: “The fundamental premise behind this is that our traffic is bad and our traffic is not going to get better, and that should not be news to any of you,” Councilmember Roger Berliner said. “We can’t afford to build more subways and we can’t afford to build any more light rail after the Purple Line. We have only one real option and that is rapid transit. It is, without a doubt, the most cost-effective, flexible option that is available to us. And it is a proven option....”

Kelly Blynn from the Coalition for Smarter Growth and David Moon from newly-formed advocacy group Communities For Transit introduced a coalition of 30 environmental, civic, business and development groups that supports the plan in a press conference before the public hearing....
"This movement has really got broad support," Moon said. "All of these groups have come behind this idea that the rapid transit system is a visionary, game-changing, catalytic project for traffic reduction, sustainable environmentalism in Montgomery County and economic development...."

[Councilmember Marc] Elrich got in a back-and-forth with North Bethesda civic activist Paula Bienenfeld, who claimed the bus rapid transit plan would mean the taking of 3,000 properties. That won’t be determined in the master plan process. Other opponents claimed the bus rapid transit system was a gift for developers.
“I’m not gonna respond to every misstatement that was made. We’re not going to take 3,000 properties from people,” Elrich said after Bienenfeld’s testimony. “I’m probably the last person on earth, or at least in this room, that would do something on behalf of developers. …There’s no way our roads can handle what’s coming.”
Below you can see a map of the proposed Montgomery County Rapid Transit System, as well as some photos of the Arlington-Alexandria "bus rapid transit" systems due to open next year:


JUICE #5: WEST VIRGINIA REPUBLICANS REJECT FORMER MARYLAND GOP CHAIR ALEX MOONEY - Maryland Juice caught an amusing column today in Martinsburg, West Virginia's Journal newspaper. Former Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney recently left the Free State to run for a congressional seat in nearby West Virginia, but it appears that our neighbors are not thrilled at the prospect of electing Mooney (excerpt below):
JEFF WERNER (VIA THE JOURNAL): Congressional Candidate for District 2 and failed Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney, who states he was "exiled," is going back to Maryland for a massive fundraiser.

It is very concerning that a pro-choice GOP candidate who was chased from Maryland would go back there to get more campaign dollars. He formed an exploratory committee to run for retired Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's seat, and he raised $100,000. When it was determined that Roscoe was going to run again, Alex stopped his campaign and decided to move to Falling Waters, W.Va., to run for Congress and brought that money with him, not that he would even think of returning it to those he took from.

Alex Mooney presented a bill while still Maryland state senator to fund abortions for the mentally ill with tax dollars. He can't go around stating he is pro-life and state he will fight the pro-choice "zealots" in Congress; that would go against his own principles. But as a former resident of Maryland who knows Alex, it doesn't surprise me that he would fib to the electorate of District 2.

Alex Mooney was also for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants on the backs of Maryland taxpayers in 2003, a bill he supported and was vetoed. It violated the 1996 Federal Immigration Reform Act regarding Post Secondary Education for Illegal Immigrants and Foreign Nationals.

Mooney, while Maryland state senator, also supported bills that would have increased taxes/fees in Maryland. I have his voting record.

If you look up Alex Mooney on Google, you will find his resignation from the Md. GOP chairmanship. He was under heavy pressure to resign due to his lack of leadership skills....

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