Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

Posts tagged ‘Corporate taxes’

ALEC Is At It Again!

The following is submitted by Guest-Blogger, Burkely Hermann, from Baltimore. He is an online blogger, in his own right, and a student who writes about National, State and International issues, in order to educate the public and motivate us to act.

I just realized something horrifying. Remember the campaign I was trying to start against the bill to raise the corporate tax rate? Guess what? ALEC is involved. First I wrote about how Senator Brinkley and Delegate Schultz were funded by big business, telling people to email their state representatives in response. Then, I launched the #STOPBS campaign, creating a new petition. Finally, I wrote an article in the DelMarva Progressive about this topic, detailing specifics, including the hearing in the Ways and Means Committee, scheduled for February 26th.

Republican Sen. David Brinkley

Republican Sen. David Brinkley

Then, today, I was trying to do some research for a Twitter battle, and I stumbled across ALEC again. ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, according the Center of Media & Democracy: is not a lobby; it is not a front group. In reality, it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators changes to laws they desire, that directly benefit their bottom line or cause. Along with legislators (State and Federal), corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces, and vote with legislators, to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate Governing Board, which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on their Board.)

Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly, Conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in Statehouses, across the land, as their own “brilliant” public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a State legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

How does such an organization factor into this bill, you might ask? Consider that, of the 28 Republican sponsors in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates (27 in the House and one in the Senate) 10 are ALEC members.  That’s more than 35.7% of all sponsors!

Conservative Del. Kelly Schulz

Conservative Del. Kelly Schulz

This is a good chunk of all the ALEC legislators in the State. I have an article on the way about the other co-sponsors. As for this bill, in particular, it is in line with other ALEC “model” bills, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes:

“The specific policies include deep cuts in income taxes, particularly for affluent households and corporations…While pushing policies that would weaken or dismantle state revenue systems that finance key public investments, ALEC promotes [things like]…Mechanisms that would reduce funds for services.”

While this bill, its current form, does not conform to any of the “models” described directly, the bill, itself, still benefits corporate power and financial goals. So, lets come together and #StopAlec from giving these corporations a tax break they don’t deserve! As a start, sign my petition. Then, contact your State Senator and Delegate, stating your position against this legislation.  Afterwards, stay tuned for further information, updates and suggestions for other actions to take.

The Fight To Keep Corporations Paying A Fair Share!

The following is submitted by Guest-Blogger, Burkely Hermann, from Baltimore. He is an online blogger, in his own right, and a student who writes about National, State and International issues, in order to educate the public.

Recently, on my blog, I launched a campaign to combat, what I believe, is a bad proposal that will harm Maryland. Its called the #STOPBS campaign, which comes from the first letters of the sponsors of companion bills in the Maryland House and the Senate. It aims to make the bill that seeks to lower corporate income tax rates in the State, die, effectively telling legislators “it’s not okay.”Most already know that on the Federal level, politicians are trying to lower the Federal corporate income tax rate. But right now, it is happening in people’s backyards, in State legislatures across the country.  Senator David Brinkley (R-Dist. 4), who proposed SB 34, seeks to lower Maryland’s corporate income tax rate from its current 8.25% to 6%, a 2.25% drop! Brinkley, who has gotten campaign contributions, since 2005, from corporate giants, like Bank of America, Comcast, BGE and Constellation PACs (among many others), as I detailed on my blog, believes that such a tax break will make Maryland competitive with the State of Virginia. The sponsor of the same bill in the House, concurs.  HB 261 is sponsored by Del. Kelly Schulz (R-Dist. 4A). Hearings in the House Ways & Means Committee are scheduled for February 26th.

Republican Sen. David Brinkley

Republican Sen. David Brinkley

Conservative Del. Kelly Schulz

Conservative Del. Kelly Schulz

In order to denounce such arguments for this tax break, one must look at what this bill actually does. The net loss in tax revenue for Fiscal Year 2014 would be over $381 million dollars. These cuts in Fiscal Year 2014 would include a decrease in funds for transportation by $63.1 million, most of which goes to the State transportation budget, a decrease in funds for Higher Education by $22.9 million, and a decrease in revenues from local highway users, by  $6.1 million. As a result, the current State budget deficit, which is already insurmountable, would increase, and $37,000 dollars would be needed just to notify the 62,000 corporate filers in the State about the new rate reduction. All of these numbers are thanks to a report by the Department of Legislative Services on the matter. To summarize, these cuts would hurt students, as well as reduce the amount of money going to maintain an already failing infrastructure, which will make matters worse, and local governments, which are already feeling budget cuts.

Michael Hudson explained this in a CounterPunch article he wrote last August: “Unlike the U.S. federal government, most states and cities have constitutions that prevent them from running budget deficits. This means that when they cut property taxes, they either must borrow from the wealthy, or cut back employment and public services…Cities are defaulting from California to Alabama…This has become the main cause of America’s rising unemployment, helping drive down consumer demand… Most urban revenue is a free lunch created by taxpayer-financed roads, schools, sewers and water systems….State and local pension funds are $3 trillion behind because they are only making 1% returns these days…Debt-ridden austerity and downsizing government is being urged as if it is inevitable, not a policy choice to put bondholders and the 1% over the 99% – a reward for the lobbying money it has spent on buying politicians and misleading voters, to believe that cutting property taxes and cutting taxes on the rich will help the economy.” Hudson proposes that we default, but I believe there is something more imperative that we must deal with.

Times are tough for Americans. Nearly half of America is at or near the poverty level.  Cases of individuals suffering from depression have increased in areas affected by SuperStorm Sandy. Youths, from 5th to 12th grades, are optimistic about their future, but adults are not so sure, according to recent Gallup polls. This is not the time for corporations to get a tax break. People are suffering and justice is not furthered by corporations not paying a fair share in taxes. Simply put, it is matter of fairness, equity and justice. They can cough up the money. They can stay afloat. There is no danger there. Over the past few years, corporations have been hoarding cash, and now hold more cash than ever before.

This is why I urge you to help spread this message, far and wide, across Maryland, by signing this petition, telling your legislators you want corporations in Maryland to pay their fair share of taxes and not to reduce the current tax rates. Share this with your friends; tell everyone you know about it. If enough people are mobilized, we can stop this in its tracks and let legislators know that now is the time to create jobs, invest in schools and improve infrastructure, not lower taxes for corporate entities!

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