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Sen. Dyson Responds to MDOT Secretary Robert L. Flanagan

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Posted on July 16, 2004:

Senator Dyson July 16, 2004

I would like to respond to Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan’s unusual attack on me regarding my stance on the car tax that Governor Ehrlich so vigorously supported. I say this attack was unusual because never in my 30 years of public service in the General Assembly and U.S. Congress have I been rebuked by a cabinet secretary, especially one whose confirmation I was pleased to vote for days after he came to my office to request my vote and offering cooperation and good will.

The Secretary writes “where was Sen. Dyson when the time came to vote on this package? He voted “no” on the package?”

That’s right, Mr. Secretary. I voted no against raising more taxes on Marylanders, not against the Hughesville bypass which is quite frankly one of the most ridiculous and incorrect political charges made against me. As a longtime supporter of the Hughesville bypass, no one in their right mind can say I am against the bypass. I am against raising taxes!

I voted against raising taxes because I signed a pledge to my constituents not to do so. I believe if one signs a pledge, they should stand by it. For may years, I have signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge that states: “I pledge to the taxpayers of the 29th District of the State of Maryland and to all the people of this state, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Two Democrats in the Maryland Senate signed this pledge. My fellow Senate Democrat Norman Stone and I both stuck by our pledge and voted against the car tax. Only two of the nine Senate Republicans stood by their pledge to not raise taxes. Don’t take my word for it, check out the Americans for Tax Reform website:

On February 19 of this year, The National Taxpayers Union wrote Governor Ehrlich -- who ran on a pledge of “no new taxes” but was NOT one of eight governors to sign the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge. In the letter, the National Taxpayers Union wrote, “Raising car registration fees by more than 50 percent and truck registration fees by more than 65 percent -- with no requisite increase in processing costs or other extenuating circumstance --is clearly a tax.”

Clearly, the governor didn’t listen to those who wrongly believed he came to Annapolis on a platform not to raise our taxes since he has raised taxes on all Marylanders who drive a car, flush their toilets or septic systems or own homes.

I never said I was “embarrassed” by the passage of Governor Ehrlich’s car tax increase as Secretary Flanagan writes. I simply regretted it as terrible public policy. I’m sure many Marylanders who believe in the sancity of keeping their word will agree.

Maryland Senator Roy Dyson District 29

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