More would share pain of tax in­crease

Se­nate panel re­works gov­er­nor’s plan

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY DAVID HILL

The full Se­nate is ex­pected to de­bate the plan next week.

“We spent a lot of time work­ing on this, try­ing to come up with the fairest and most eq­ui­table plan pos­si­ble,” said Sen. Roger Manno, Mont­gomery Demo­crat. “With the work prod­uct of the com­mit­tee, we were able to do that.” The 13-mem­ber com­mit­tee de­bated the bud­get largely along party lines and passed its rec­om­mended plan by an 11-2 vote with sup­port from all Democrats and one of three Repub­li­cans.

The law­mak­ers ap­proved an al­ter­nate, vir­tu­ally equal set of rev­enues to the gov­er­nor’s while sidestep­ping all of the nearly $800 mil­lion in cuts an­nounced ear­lier this week as part of a so-called “dooms­day bud­get” pro­posal, which would re­duce lo­cal aid, ed­u­ca­tion and health costs and elim­i­nate 500 state jobs with­out rais­ing rev­enues.

The dooms­day cuts could still take ef­fect if law­mak­ers re­ject all or some

of the com­mit­tee’s rev­enue in­creases.

Mr. Manno said cuts to Med­i­caid would be among the first to be con­sid­ered.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince Ge­orge’s Demo­crat, has said the full Se­nate is likely to push for ad­di­tional cuts with some Democrats join­ing mi­nor­ity Repub­li­cans.

“A lot of the pro­vi­sions that were put for­ward were just to raise rev­enues, which I think are un­nec­es­sary,” said Sen. David R. Brink­ley, Fred­er­ick Re­pub­li­can. “We can’t keep go­ing back into the purses of Mary­land fam­i­lies.”

The com­mit­tee re­jected the gov­er­nor’s pro­posal to ef­fec­tively raise in­come taxes on res­i­dents mak­ing more than $100,000 a year by low­er­ing the value of their item­ized de­duc­tions by 10 per­cent to 20 per­cent and re­duc­ing the value of their per­sonal ex­emp­tions.

In­stead, mem­bers en­dorsed a plan by Mr. Manno that would im­ple­ment a mod­est in­come-tax in­crease on all res­i­dents who make more than $3,000 a year.

Tax rates within each bracket would in­crease by as much as 0.25 per­cent.

The state’s cur­rent tax brack­ets range from 2 per­cent for those mak­ing less than $1,000 a year to 5.5 per­cent for those mak­ing more than $500,000.

Mr. Manno said a fam­ily mak­ing $40,000 a year would likely to pay an ad­di­tional $30 in taxes.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers also im­proved a four-year pen­sion shift and a main­te­nance-of-ef­fort bill that would re­quire coun­ties to con­tinue in­creas­ing lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing.

The pen­sion phase-in is less harsh than the gov­er­nor’s im­me­di­ate shift, re­quir­ing coun­ties to pay an ad­di­tional $68 mil­lion next year rather than the gov­er­nor’s pro­posed $239 mil­lion.

To help pay the ad­di­tional costs, coun­ties would re­ceive some ad­di­tional fund­ing and the au­thor­ity to raise lo­cal in­come taxes above cur­rently al­low­able lev­els, with any ex­tra rev­enue go­ing to ed­u­ca­tion.

Sen. Nancy J. King said lo­cal school boards sup­port the decision.

“The lead­er­ship of those groups has agreed to this shift with us and it makes me feel a lot more com­fort­able about do­ing this,” said Ms. King,

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