For years, the right and left have been bickering in Maryland over whether or not people are coming or going, arguments that solved nothing, changed nothing and improved nothing. It's been a hot topic this year, with individual income tax hikes and proposals to raise the gasoline tax front and center on the policy agenda. The question is: At what point do high taxes drive people away to other states?
"Virginia, here I come" is a popular refrain on social media posts on groups like Change Maryland's Facebook page, with 25,000 followers who have legitimate qualms about the state's relatively high corporate and individual income tax burdens. We are not talking about a dozen or so comments like this, but thousands. Are they all simply ideologues on the right — or is this a worrisome trend that policymakers should take seriously?
The question is how to turn this anecdotal evidence into a policy debate that gets something done. And this issue of people voting with their feet is more aptly described as the rise or decline of the tax base, which has a profound impact on funding public education and health, police, fire and transportation — the core government services that cities need to thrive.