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LIVE BLOG: Boteler, Cluster Hold Anti-Tax Meeting in Perry Hall

State Del. Joseph C. Boteler III and Del. John Cluster Jr. of Legislative District 8 held a meeting at the Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5.

Meeting updates were recorded live during the meeting.

7:07 p.m.

Chris Defeo, Del. Joe Boteler's aid, thanked community members for coming and said this upcoming legislative session would deal with several "hot-button" issues, ranging from the gas tax to gay marriage, but Defeo said this meeting would focus only on fiscal issues.

7:10 p.m.

Boteler started the meeting by speaking about the gas tax. "They have raided the [transportation] fund," he said, explaining that he believes there would be plenty of money for transportation in the state if governors had not taken money out of the transportation fund for other uses.

"Almost $900 million has been raided from the transportation fund and put into the general fund," Boteler said.

"Part of my job as a legislator is to vote for taxes or not to vote for taxes, that's what we do," Boteler said, adding that some state taxes have been tied to other bills so legislators would be able to say they were unable to vote for or against a specific tax.

7:16 p.m.

Not only could a state tax on gas occur, but gas could also receive an additional sales tax, Boteler said.

"So every guy with a gas station is going to have to sit and figure this out? That's not the way to run an economy," he said. "I think it's a way for governors to build a larger pot of money that they can use in the future."

"I think that if enough people make enough noise, they'll back away from it," Boteler said.

"Already the governor has taken, I think, $150 million from the transportation fund," he said.

"They're also talking about raising the property taxes," Boteler said.

A woman said, "But our houses are devalued!"

Boteler introduced Democrat Del. Eric Bromwell, also of Legislative District 8, who attended. 

7:20 p.m.

Del. John Cluster began speaking. He said that emission test fees are also expected to go up. It currently costs $14 per vehicle and Cluster said the money goes to a company based in California. Cluster also said that new cars do not need vehicle emission tests as much as used cars, but other legislators would not allow for a wider timeframe between emissions.

Cluster said that a fund to clean up the bay has also been raided, so a new fee is now proposed to be added to water and gas bills to refill that fund.

Cluster said that new vehicle title fees are also being considered and a car trade-in tax allowance will also likely be removed.

"If you travel the tunnel, you know that tunnel fees are going to go up ... you're going to pay more," he said.

Cluster said that he and Boteler didn't vote for fees that were "hid in the budget." Both voted against the entire proposed state budget.

"Joe and I are Repulicans and Eric is a Democrat ... but I want you to know we work very well together. Eric led the floor fight against the alcohol tax. You are well represented in this district," Cluster said.

7:29 p.m.

"Many, many times, I see that people don't get represented. When one party rules the roost, people don't get represented. ... That's not a way to run the house. It's not about you. It's about ideology," Boteler said. 

"You constantly hear about the news media reporting that they're cutting the budget," Cluster said. "It's a shell game," he said, "It's going to go up again, I'm sure it's going to go up to 33 billion."

"They always say, if you don't pass this, they're going to cut police and cut fire ... for me it's a scare tactic. It's one of the worst things I hear as a retired police officer," Cluster said.

7:34 p.m.

"One reason the budget goes up every year is because bills pass and there's a cost associated with those bills," Boteler said. "All of sudden, it's a lot of money."

"Back under Glendening, our budget was about $16 billion ... it's gone up that much. Your paycheck hasn't gone up that much. Our population hasn't gone up that much. That's growth in government," he said.

"They're coming right back to us because they mismanaged this and now they're going to suck the life out of us," Boteler said.

7:37 p.m.

A man stood and said, "It seems to me that the problem here, [Del. Bromwell] excluded, is the Democrat party of Maryland ... and maybe he should think about switching to be a Republican."

Bromwell: "I get that a lot in Annapolis."

The man added, "Maybe the Democrats here should think about switching their parties."

Cluster said that Republicans are such a minority in Maryland that no Republican votes are needed to pass a bill.

"But they still need to debate us," Boteler said.

7:44 p.m.

"My idea is to bring in an idependent auditor from outside of Maryland ... we need to go statewide," Cluster said. " That's where our money is being wasted, in a lot of those state agencies. ... We need to do a line by line audit and find out where the money is going."

7:52 p.m.

Man asked, "There is a problem with the free press. ... How do we spread the word so we're not just a room full of people but a state full of people."

Boteler said, "If you have an email address, make sure we have it, and spread this information to your email list. You need to share this with your family and your neighbors."

"You voice yourself as individual citizens, not some tax group. You say, I'm here as a person in District 8 and I'm concerned," Boteler said. 

A man said, "We went down there and we never got to say anything."

Boteler said, "But you've got to be there. It's not about winning the battle today. It's about being in the battle to win it."

Cluster said constituents should write letters to the editor to Patch and the East County Times.

"What about the Baltimore Sun?" a man asked.

The crowd laughed.

"Send it to the Patch," Cluster said. "That's the best way to spread the word. ... Emily is out here every day doing things for Perry Hall and Nick over in Parkville."

"Visit our offices," Boteler said. "You'll see what's actually going on."

"We're here to be resources for you. We can help give you some of the highlights of a bill," Boteler said.

8:02 p.m.

A woman said she doesn't use a computer as much, but she calls the White House and Annapolis almost every day to ask questions.

The crowd clapped.

"Anyone who doesn't have a computer, we'll get the information to you," Boteler said. 

"We'll even use snail mail," Cluster said.

Defeo said you can call 410-841-3000 to be directed to any office in Annapolis.

8:06 p.m.

Bromwell said he's more likely to listen to an email or a letter or a phone call from a constituent, rather than a paid lobbyists.

"That's why it's so important for us to listen to you ... you may have the answer we're looking for," Boteler said.

Cluster said a cigarette tax is also being proposed.

"If we ran our business like the that state runs their business, we'd be bankrupt ... or in jail," Cluster said.

"If government were smaller, we'd have less of that ... we need to get government out of lives," Boteler said.

8:11 p.m.

"I represent this district. Sometimes, I decide to vote on things against what I want because it matters what you want. I represent this district," Cluster said.

8:18 p.m.

Attendees passed around petition opposing the gas tax.

8:19 p.m.

A man said there are no new highways proposed in Maryland, so why does it need more money, he asked.

Cluster said a lot of the money is going toward mass transit, which is a losing money every day in Maryland.

"There are states where public transportation works ... in New York and D.C. ... but people here are not going to give up their cars," Cluster said.

"How do we as citizens get a hold of the budget and say, 'Scratch this line?'" an attendee said.

"You have to go to the Appropriations [Committee] for that. We try," Cluster said."Once it goes through the budget process, it's almost impossible to pull it from the budget."

"Contact us and we'll give names and phone numbers of those in the Appropriations [Committee]," Boteler said.

Someone asked what delegates are doing about the Dream Act, and not allowing illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition. Cluster said that that issue has gone to referendum so voters can decide, and that it went to referendum because voters rallied together.

A man thanked the delegates "for representing us," and asked why Klausmeier wasn't at the meeting.

Bromwell said she was out of town, but she also has a record of voting against new taxes.

Bromwell, Boteler and Cluster said they each planned to vote against new taxes and fees.

"They're all [legislators] going up for reelection in 2014 and you need to decide ... it needs to stop," Cluster said. "You do make a difference. Your voice does make a difference."

"Let people know you're not going to put up with it anymore," Cluster said. "We need to put this country back together and it needs to start in Maryland."

A woman with Americans for Properity said she and her group plan to be at the Joppa and Belair Road Shell station to protest the gas tax from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

---

Two state legislators have planned a public meeting to discuss their opposition to new taxes and fees they expect to be introduced during the 2012 .

Republicans and of Legislative District 8 plan to hold the meeting at in Perry Hall at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5.

The meeting will focus on a proposed , as well as increases in automobile registration fees, emissions testing fees and the flush fee, according to a press release by Boteler's office.

"As your representatives we fought to block the 25 tax and fee increases during the 2011 legislative session and are gearing up to do the same in 2012. We will discuss how you can help to stop the proposals from becoming a reality," the delegates stated in the press release. 

, a legislative aide for Boteler, told Patch that he expects about 50 people to attend.

Anyone planning to attend the meeting is asked to RSVP by email at joseph.boteler@house.state.md.us.

Are you opposed to new taxes and fees or do you think they are a justified means of building revenue? Tell us in the comments.

Joan Wood January 06, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Great meeting! Lots of good solid information and advice. All told in a manner which even I could understand..........I also live in the 7th District and cannot vote for either Delegate Boteler or Delegate Cluster. But I do intend to try to make it a point to get to Annapolis and help them this session. Good job all of you.........especially Chris you worked hard to get this all organized!
CJ Defeo January 06, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I attended the meeting last night and everyone there was definitely against any more taxes in any form. However, we can't let the feeling from last night fade. The General Assembly session is ready to start and we should all be calling / emailing / writing our elected officials and tell them no more taxes.
Bill Howard January 07, 2012 at 02:19 AM
@ Leon I have known Joe Boteler for about 18 years. Never a fake, always goes for what he believes in and happens to believe in the right stuff. Now, he needs our help to fight the tax hungry libs who want to confiscate our money for their joy. Light up their switchboards and fill their mailboxes.
Bill Howard January 07, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Again we are part of the 99%
Bill Howard January 07, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Light up the switchboards, fill the mailboxes and occupy their time!

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