The Great Pocketbook Raid: Week Two

So what happened last week?

Not much.

State Comptroller Peter Franchot appeared at an anti-slots rally to call them “evil.” Mike2 made noncommittal noises. Ike Leggett complained that MoCo was getting hit too hard with the income tax increase. HoCo Delegate Shane Pendergrass proposed taking money from the poorer parts of the state to reduce her constituents’s tax burden. The O’Malley administration again changed the cost estimates for its proposed risky health care scheme – giving us four estimates in less than two weeks – and raised the estimates for slots revenue. And four Republican delegates (Impallaria, Boteler, Dwyer, McDonough, and Shewell), counterintuitively, proposed a package on nanny-state amendments to the slots bill.

What lies ahead? Last week I made some modest predictions. Over the weekend I received another set from a senior staffer in Annapolis. Key takeaway points.

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There is still a lot of disagreement in the Senate on the Governor’s risky scheme. The Mike Miller part of the dynamic Mike2 entity wanted to have bills ready for a vote by this coming Friday. It doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Look for the first votes on/about November 16.

Corporate tax increases and the increase in vehicle titling fees are going to happen.

The increase in personal income tax will happen but not the Full O’Malley, as it were. The MoCo and HoCo delegations aren’t keen on this because their constituents aren’t very keen on it (gee, I thought affluent Dems didn’t mind paying extortionate tax rates). Word is that the new rate will bump up to 5%-5.25%.

No one is happy with the sales tax increase. The Eastern Shore, PG, Baltimore City, and Baltimore County delegations are especially unhappy though for different reasons.

A graduated gas tax remains a question mark. If significant numbers of Dem delegates are unhappy with the sales tax it is difficult to see them singing hosannas in favor of an even more regressive tax.

The key vote is shaping up to be the vote on slots. Without slots O’Malley’s “three legged stool” becomes a program of marginal spending reductions and whopping tax increases.

Despite the vow of the Republican caucus to vote against slots in this special sessions, we have our weak sisters. Senator Colburn has caved in and will vote in favor of slots. We expect Senators George Edwards and Donald Munson to follow suit in voting against their constituents best interests.

Keep in mind that we don’t need to win on slots, we just need to maintain 19 votes to sustain a filibuster. Losing these three false friends puts us about two votes shy of doing that.

If you have the time and electrons to spare, contact a senator, any senator, and tell them to stand firm against this tax and spending packange.

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