Tax Hikes Are Never Inevitable

They’re a Choice – and Right Now a Bad One

Apr 19, 2024

PRESS Release

240-686-3510 |

ROCKVILLE, MD (April 19, 2024) — As soon as Maryland legislators finished their 2024 session they got busy at spin control, trying to explain their unwillingness to address the state’s growing fiscal deficit. Lawmakers and the governor claim the sole source of the problem is a lack of revenue rather than excessive spending; they assert that major tax increases (beyond this year’s hikes in vehicle fees and cigarette taxes) are inevitable in future.


In response, Maryland Public Policy Institute President and CEO Christopher Summers issued the following statement:


Maryland’s political leaders would have us believe the state is in a fiscal mess through no fault of their own and that the only solution is massive tax hikes that they’ve put on hold – for now. This narrative, however, both misrepresents the problem and ignores a real and preferable solution.


When pressed, responsible lawmakers admit that the primary cause of the budget chaos at both state and county levels is the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (a.k.a. “Kirwan”) education plan. The Spending Affordability Committee projected that budget shortfalls will increase substantially over the next five years “due to the need for general funds to support costs related to the Blueprint.” The recommended treatments are to “minimize the enactment of new mandates,” increase “efficiency,” and “consider revenue options.”


Sadly, legislators seem focused only on that last tactic – i.e., tax hikes. They’re playing a tired old political game: mandate new spending one year, then cry poverty and proclaim the need for “new revenue sources” when the bills start coming due.


But the Blueprint is not Holy Writ etched in stone. And tax hikes on hard-working Marylanders are not inevitable. Instead of pretending to have no way out, lawmakers could choose to alter the Blueprint’s mandates or eliminate it altogether.  While anodyne poll questions about it often suggest broad support – “it’s for the children,” and no one is against them, after all – when Marylanders are asked about higher taxes to pay for this program many have repeatedly said they want the state to live within its means and trim Kirwan mandates if necessary to hold the line on taxes.


Taxpayers are right to complain: the Tax Foundation ranks Maryland’s business tax climate the 6th-worst in the nation. Further damage to our competitiveness will destroy jobs, limit opportunity, and accelerate flight – creating future budget stress. MPPI has long warned that the Blueprint is an unworkable budget-buster and suggested better ways to improve our schools. It’s past time for our leaders to consider them.


The Maryland Public Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues. The Institute’s mission is to formulate and promote public policies at all levels of government based on principles of free enterprise, limited government, and civil society. Learn more at