Gov’t spending: the good, bad and ugly

02/06/2015

 

Rare would be the person who has a complete grasp of government’s finances. Generally, the amounts are so large and their operating mechanisms are so complex that they defy understanding.

Now and then, however, specific budget-related matters arise that most people know enough about to either embrace or reject immediately. Here are three such cases from just this week.

Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing to eliminate personal property tax for some small businesses by exempting the first $10,000 from taxation.

For those who don’t know what this tax is, a broad explanation would be to say it’s what businesses pay the state every year on items they bought, already paid sales tax on, list as assets and continue to use.

This levy does not involve a great deal of money for many small businesses, but it’s still one of the worst taxes on the books. Think of it as a computer-furniture-equipment-and-anything-else tax. It’s ridiculous.

Then, on a more local level, there’s the government spending on the Rural Legacy Program. This could reach into the millions for Worcester County and the money for it comes from the real estate transfer tax. Two county commissioners, Ted Elder and Chip Bertino, voted against continuing the program in Worcester, even though it’s purpose is to preserve farmland in a fair and equitable manner by buying conservation easements.

From a government versus property rights perspective, it is better to pay landowners not to develop their property than it is to have government zone them into oblivion without compensation.

This is an easy program to support. Elder stood on the principal that government shouldn’t be spending this money at all (Bertino had no comment) but he might think of it differently were he to look at from the private property rights point of view.

The last of these three examples typifies government spending gone ridiculous. The Department of Homeland Security is paying the tab for two county employees to go to Nevada to take the “Weapons of Mass Destruction Radiological/Nuclear Course.”

No criticism of the employees, but … really?

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