GOVERNOR WES MOORE ADMINISTRATION IMPOSES 338 NEW OR INCREASED TAXES AND FEES

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By Joint Republican Caucus | June 9, 2024 |

Marylanders are understandably upset with the news of significant vehicle registration fee increases that the Democratic-led General Assembly passed earlier this year. Unfortunately, these vehicle fee increases are just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg – the new and increased taxes and fees under the Moore Administration.

Since the end of the 2024 Legislative Session, the Joint Republican Caucus in the Maryland General Assembly has worked to tally the number of tax and fee increases that have occurred since Governor Moore took office, either at his direction or through the actions of the Democratic majority in the legislature.

The number is staggering. It almost defies belief – 338 new or increased taxes and fees as of today.

Where do these tax and fee increases come from? For starters, 38 of these new or increased fees and taxes were the product of the 2024 Legislative Session. The General Assembly passed the Paint Tax, the Uber Tax, increases in the Cigarette Tax, and massive increases in vehicle registration fees – to name a few. While the Governor did not propose them, neither did he veto them. While we appreciated his original commitment to hold back some of the more egregious tax plans that his Democratic partners in the General Assembly were championing, he has now signed some of these tax increases into law.

Governor Moore’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) has the authority to increase parking fees at BWI without legislative approval. In the fall of 2023, MDOT included parking fee increases as part of its plan to close budget gaps. In May, MDOT confirmed that these parking fees would increase by 33-40%.

Overall, the vast majority of these 338 tax and fee increases came through regulation. In 2023, 250 new or increased fees passed through the Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) Committee. There have been numerous increases in fees for occupational licenses – cosmetologists, electricians, plumbers, and other professions, making it more expensive for Marylanders to simply earn a living. There is also a plethora of new fees – fees for letters of good standing, fees for changing your address with a licensing body, fees for copies, and so on. These increases come at the Moore Administration’s request through various government agencies.

In May, the AELR Committee received a request from the Motor Vehicle Administration for 43 increases in driver’s license charges and other fees. This is the first set of fees to come before the Committee this year, but in all likelihood, it will not be the last.

The AELR process, while technically public, is not very accessible to most Marylanders. In some respects, it is a process hidden in plain sight. Regulatory changes, including fee increases, are advertised in the Maryland Register. The Maryland Register, while available online, is not usually a publication that Marylanders peruse regularly. A regulation typically goes into effect 45 days after its publication in the Maryland Register, provided 30 of those days are used for a public comment period. The AELR Committee receives the regulation at least 15 days before it is published in the Maryland Register. While the Committee is tasked with reviewing the proposed change,  they are not required to explicitly approve any change or new regulation. Members of the Committee can request a hold on a regulation for a public hearing, but this does not occur regularly.

With the way the AELR process is set up, the vast majority of Marylanders will not know a fee has been increased in regulation until they have to pay it. This is troubling when one considers the sheer number of fees created or increased through regulation.

As summer begins, the 2025 Legislative Session seems very far away. But Maryland still has a significant challenge as spending is projected to outpace our revenue and large budget deficits loom. It is unlikely that the appetite for tax increases has been satisfied, as Annapolis Democrats have shown little interest in scaling back spending to a more reasonable level.

From 2007-2014 the O’Malley Administration raised 84 taxes, tolls, and fees. We are only halfway through the Moore Administration’s second year, and they have already raised nearly four times as many taxes and fees. There is a limit to what Marylanders can absorb and a limit to what they are willing to accept. The hardworking citizens of our state cannot take any more.

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