Proposed Chicken Tax Could Affect County Bond Ratings

A February 13 article reported that if a proposed 5-cent tax on each chicken raised for the poultry business, it could directly affect the bond ratings of counties where the poultry industry is a critical part of the local economy.

This week, Sen. Jim Mathias, D-38-Worcester, took to the floor to talk about Worcester County’s recent meeting  with the bond rating agencies in Manhattan. During his speech, Mathias asked his colleagues to be aware that their actions have consequences.

“As the county was asking to borrow up to $48 million to build schools, they wanted to ask about agriculture, and the question was, ‘What is going to happen with this 5-cent poultry tax?’ ” Mathias said.

“When issues like this are brought up on the floor, quote, ‘just to start a conversation,’ they have real consequences,” Mathias said…

Worcester County Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who was part of the meeting in New York, said the question about the chicken tax came after the formal presentation and questions from the panel. It was also from an employee who grew up in Maryland.

But, Shockley said, it shows how easily a conversation in Annapolis can impact other sections of the economy.

“It was after the meeting, we were just having a conversation,” Shockley said. “But the obvious effect of this is you have an analyst who is looking at our credit and our credit score and is reading what Maryland is doing in Annapolis. Our book says agriculture is important to us. You do the math.”

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Martin O’Malley has pledged to veto the chicken tax legislation if it were passed by the General Assembly.