County Executive Baker playing bad politics following the footsteps of his predesor promises veto power. According to Washington Post, the last time in 2003, Jack Johnson county executive then and the Council adopted a budget that increased the M-NCPPC tax rate by 4.8 cents or 57 percent. Johnson vetoed the measure, calling it “unnecessary” at a time when “our school system is in need of major improvements.” Sound familiar?
For only the second time in his tenure, Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III said Monday he will use his veto power to reject the Council-backed tax increase for the government’s park and planning agency.
With one of the county’s newest recreational facilities serving as a backdrop in Oxon Hill, Baker said in a news conference he was “appalled” by the Council’s levying a 1.5-cent tax increase that Prince Georgians will pay for a park system that ranks among the best in the country. Meanwhile, the schools are among the lowest-performing in Maryland.
“Look at this facility…I am proud of what we have,” he said. But “it is not fiscally prudent to invest more dollars…It is not necessary. It is not practical, strategic or visionary.”
The Council adopted a budget last month that called for a smaller property tax increase (4-cents) than the one Baker endorsed (15-cents) to pay for an ambitious school reform package of academic programs, increased teacher pay and improved facilities.
Better schools is the missing element of the county executive’s agenda to raise the quality of life in Prince George’s while attracting new families and businesses to the suburb. But the plan was met with outrage from residents still crawling out from under a housing crisis that decimated household wealth.
Lawmakers adopted a slimmed-down budget, calling it a more “fiscally responsible” accounting of the county’s financial constraints. In total, taxpayers will see a 5.5-cent tax increase that Council Chair Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) says will help solve structural deficits and pay for obligatory teacher pension costs.
In the meantime, Franklin predicted the veto will be overridden by the council immediately.