Tax Debate to Begin Next Week

The Sun:

An amended version of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tax and gambling plans could be ready for debate in the state Senate by early next week, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said today.

Speaking after a meeting this afternoon, Miller, O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch said the special session of the General Assembly to address Maryland’s projected $1.7 billion budget shortfall is on schedule and moving toward consensus.

Busch said the House is looking for more cuts in the budget — perhaps as much as $500 million — and Miller said he expects there may be significant changes to some aspects of O’Malley’s proposal. But both said they anticipate that the general outlines of the governor’s plan will pass within the next two or three weeks.

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The question now is how many of the “legs” of the stool will remain.

Slots themselves will probably not pass during this session. It would seem doubtful that if the votes are lacking to pass slots then there wouldn’t be the larger number of votes to put the issue on the ballot in 2008. But who knows. The craveness of most of the members of the General Assembly simply knows no bounds.

With Ike Leggett against a 6% rate on income tax, a rate which would hit his enlightened constituents harder, and no one else really keen on the idea it seems safe to say that while the income tax rate will increase, it will not increase as much as O’Gov would like.

Taxes on business? Business is evil. Business pollutes things, it makes old people eat cat food, it lives on the blood of children. Of course they’ll pass an increased corporate tax. Never mind that corporations merely collect the tax and its customers pay them. Never mind that this tax rate runs Maryland into the lowest 8 states in terms of business climate. Business is evil. Just remember that and you’ll get through this fine.

Sales tax? That’s a hard one. Right now even the less bright amongst us are starting to realize that even if they don’t visit tanning parlors or get tats or fail to work off that excess poundage that they are going to pay this tax on other things. Like their rent.

Gas tax? It’s hard to see how this one slips through the taxing orgy now going on in Annapolis. A self-raising tax would be hard to resist. Why the tax has to be linked to the obscenely high construction costs in Maryland rather than to the PPI or something else, I don’t understand… at least I don’t understand if union campaign contributions to O’Malley are ignored.

So hold on to your pants folks, because you’re going to be lucky to make it to the end of this session still wearing them.

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