The Senate is casting their final votes today on a bunch of budget bills. If they all go through, most Marylanders will see a .25% state tax increase. Anyone making over $500,000 would see another quarter of a cent taken out of every dollar earned. The tax increase is expected to raise $30 million for improvements to schools.

Unsurprisingly, some politicians are decrying the tax increase (and particularly the piggyback tax for high earners) as a job killer, while others passionately defend the importance of education. But of course, it’s not really about choosing between jobs and education, it’s about a tax increase of a particular size versus a spending project of a particular size to a particular purpose. What we really need to argue the issue are data about the real effect of raising taxes on high earners by x amount paired with an assessment of the state of our school buildings. Unfortunately, what passes for debate is mostly just sloganeering. In the most ideologically divisive arguments our politicians end up resembling dolls that recite partisan talking points when you pull the string.

How much money do you think we could save the taxpayer if we replaced them with actual dolls? No matter the bill being debated Mr. T could say, “I pity the fool!” Then Pee Wee Herman could say, “I know you are, but what am I?”