Baltimore, MD - May 16, 2017 - It’s that time of year when our minds want to take a vacation from family budgeting, but we never seem to get a break.  Pesach, with its high costs, is over, and the fall Yomim Tovim expenses are still months away. We are winding down to the end of the school year, but that makes us think about tuition bills for next year. And summer expenses are coming up – clothes, camp, vacations, and keeping the kids busy while they are off from school but while most parents don’t have off from work. This is not an easy time of year on our wallets but, then again, it never is.

For many of us, we fail to understand that we have more influence to control our pocketbook freedom than we actually use. We trudge through life paying bills that are largely beyond our control, from insurance to braces to buying a home. When we can, we try to negotiate expenses, such as applying for school tuition discounts or turning down the heat in our homes at night to cut electricity costs. We feel held hostage to all the endless bills, but what if we could have a little more influence over how much money we end up with in our bank account at the end of the month?

Ultimately, we possess a great power that impacts our finances – the power to vote for politicians who actually realize that every dime spent by Maryland’s General Assembly is coming from our wallets. Every time a dime is not spent in a wasteful manner by politicians in Annapolis, we could potentially have more money in our bank accounts.

Last year, our community rallied behind, then candidate for Baltimore City Council Yitzy Schleifer, determined to have a strong voice in City Hall to fight against crime, high property taxes, and other problems plaguing our community. He has done a great job in a short time, really working hard for the entire district. But we must not ignore the happenings of our state government in Annapolis.

Most people are too busy to regularly pay close attention to legislation in Annapolis. But we must. There are so many issues we could, and should, be weighing in on. One example that I am sure most of us have not given much thought to: the planned wind farm in Ocean City.

This week the Maryland Board of Public Works approved the construction of a wind farm off the coast of Ocean City, an effort that began only after legislators in the General Assembly signed off on the concept. It’s now too late for us to influence our legislators on this issue, but I bring it as an example of why we should be paying closer attention to state policy and legislative issues in the future. 

To make energy more sustainable and environmentally friendly, some argue that we must build these tall, unsightly wind turbines that could ruin a beautiful beach view. Others claim that it is beneficial to the environment, potentially could create jobs, including some planned for Sparrows Point in Baltimore County, increase Maryland eco-tourism, and make our state a national center of the wind farm industry.

What does that have to do with you and me?  Because of the critical question - who is going to pay for it? The developers who build them? The government? 

Actually, a large part of the cost will be paid for by our families, because the Maryland legislation passed allows energy companies like BG&E to pass the costs onto us. Once the wind farm is built, our electric bills will have a monthly fee added to help recoup the building costs. If we are going to be paying for it, too bad we didn’t give our input when we had the opportunity.

I care about the environment, but I also care about how much money the government takes from my hard-earned paycheck. And while many argue that these kinds of fees imposed on us are small amounts, they all add up.  The wind farm costs are too late for us to avoid now, but in the future we ought to be more aware, more educated, more involved, and more active about how our legislators vote in Annapolis, particularly when it comes to spending our money. Maryland’s legislature does not meet again until next January, but when they do, let’s be ready to hold our politicians accountable for every dime they take from us.

Contributing writer Dalya Attar was born and raised in Baltimore. A graduate of the University of Maryland Law school, she works as a Baltimore City prosecutor.  She is a proud wife and mother of two adorable children.