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Busch Lays Groundwork For Tax Increases

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said this morning that the Maryland General Assembly would try "to hold local government harmless" when closing a looming $1.5 billion shortfall in the state budget.

But, speaking to a convention of the Maryland Muncipal League in Ocean City, Busch asked local leaders to refrain from "throwing popcorn in the ring" as lawmakers craft a budget solution in coming months that is likely to include tax increases.

Busch's comments on aid to local governments echoed those yesterday of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who pledged during appearances in Salisbury that he would try to protect counties and municipalities from cuts. Aid to local government makes up more than 40 percent of the state general fund.

Busch also used the appearance to build the case for raising the income and sales tax, noting that the levies in Maryland are lower than in most surrounding states.

"I don't think a tax increase is going to drive jobs outside of the state," Busch said.

Busch said it is important for lawmakers to meet the challenge ahead. "People don't expect us just to go to receptions and eat shrimp and drink cocktails," he said. "They expect us to make tough decisions."

The Speaker also cautioned against fixing the budget in a short special session, as some other lawmakers have advocated. He said the process of raising taxes and possibility legalizing slot-machine gambling needs to be an open one.

Asked later by reporters if we believed slots would be part of a revenue package, Busch said: "I don't have an answer to that. ... It's never been on the forefront of my agenda."

By John Wagner  |  June 26, 2007; 11:07 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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"I don't think a tax increase is going to drive jobs outside of the state," Busch said.

Doesn't Busch realize that personal income and sales taxes hurt WORKING FAMILIES even more than they drive jobs away?

Gas prices are at $3.00 per gallon. BGE rates are up %50 over the 15% recent increase. DMV fees are going up. In fact, the only thing that isn't going up is my salary.

On Friday evenings, how many of you out there look at your pay stub and ask yourselves, "If there was only some way that I could give a little more in taxes each week, I'd be better off"?

You wanted Democrats running the show in Maryland, well, you got it.

Posted by: BG from PG | June 26, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

BG From PG, Get a hold of yourself.

Obviously, nobody likes higher taxes. You make it sound like some people are thrilled by the idea. That's ludicrous.

But how in the heck do we close Maryland's huge budget shortfall without any tax increases? If you don't like tax increases what do you propose as an alternative?

There is very little or no "fat" to cut in Maryland's budget. What services do you propose cutting?

Posted by: XX from XX | June 26, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

How about cutting pensions to 15 year deputy police commissioners? There's $55K a year right there without batting an eyelash. See how easy this is?

Don't lay the burden of Maryland's poor decision making on my family...and to suggest that there's no fat to trim in the state budget is pure left wing garbage and you know it.

Posted by: BG from PG | June 26, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

what? What? O'Malley and the legislature are planning to raise taxes? NEVER would have seen this coming. I mean, really, he has been good one all of his other promises right? he said he would give everyone health care coverage, stop BGE rate increases, fund thornton for schools, and do it without raising taxes at least his first year. He's done all of those things right?

Posted by: snark alert | June 26, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

So he doesn't think taxes are driving jobs outside of the state?

What about all those people driving to Virginia every morning where all the jobs are?

Posted by: RoseG | June 26, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Busch said it is important for lawmakers to meet the challenge ahead. "People don't expect us just to go to receptions and eat shrimp and drink cocktails," he said. "They expect us to make tough decisions."....................Like NOT going to receptions to eat shrimp and drink cocktails.

Posted by: Count Bobulescu | June 27, 2007 12:30 AM | Report abuse

The Speaker of the People's House wants to give every Marylander a tax increase every day with a sales tax increase. We are adjacent to Delaware which has NO sales tax at all. Busch is showing contempt for the ordinary man and woman on the street with his tax increase proposal which was never mentioned in his campaign literature 7 short months ago. Cutting the state sales tax by 2 cents will send a nationwide signal to entrepreneurs to locate in Maryland.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | June 27, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't some fearless Member of the Press ask Mr.
Busch how many cocktail and shrimp he has consumed while in office? My gut and the size of his gut tell me the number is quite high. But the press no longer asks the tough questions because they consume lots of cocktails and shrimp while in
Annapolis too.

Posted by: Ask him | June 27, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey XX, when my family sees a looming budget shortfall, we CUT SPENDING first!

If income does increase (without the government taking it all, of course), it is only then that we look at returning spending to its pre-deficit levels.

Someone should teach these Leftist "leaders" some basic economics. Of course, if they start applying them in real life, they'll look like conservatives.

Posted by: Rufus | June 27, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Wagner, just what do you and Busch mean by "...levies in Maryland are lower than in most surrounding states"?

Maryland is bordered by 4 states. One of which has ZERO sales tax (and is about 3 miles from where Busch made this speech). Another, Virginia, has a 4% tax rate (with 1% going to municipalities), while the other two, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, have a 6% tax rate. Take all of those numbers and divide them by 5 and you come up with an average of 4.4%. That makes Maryland .6% HIGHER than the average of all of the surrounding states.

To reaffirm Busch's notion that Maryland's tax rate is lower than "most surrounding states" is not only disingenous but deceitful as well. Boy, what lengths lefties will go to in order to convince people that we need MORE taxes.

Posted by: BG from PG | June 27, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Shorter BG from PG:

Some of our neighboring states have lower sales taxes and some have higher, but I'll come up with some sort of meaningless average to make Maryland look bad.

Posted by: howie | June 27, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Maryland's income taxes are also higher than both Virginia and Delaware, especially when you consider the county income tax surcharge. For Busch to try and portray Maryland as low tax is ridiculous.

Posted by: MK | June 27, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Howie, it's not me or my reasoning that makes Maryland look bad, it's Busch, Miller and O'Malley's plans to raise our taxes that make Maryland look bad.

Posted by: BG from PG | June 27, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, you wanted them you got them. Now pony up to the higher taxes and be quiet about it.

The last people to be whining are those who voted for them.

Posted by: Sarah D. | July 4, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The trial balloons to boost broad-based taxes, i.e. personal income tax and sales tax in addition to raising tobacco, gasoline
taxes comes as no surprise to me.
The sales tax rate of 5% is tied with Massachusetts and a handful of other states, as the lowest in the country. It is one of the few states that doesn't add an additional 1/2% to 4% local option tax.
Certainly, that lower tax rate can be a magnet for shoppers when they come here to buy the big ticket items. True, they could go to Delaware...but I'm talking surrounding states that DO impose it, and have a higher rate. Pennsylvania just recently avoided seeing a sales tax increase from 6 to 7%. NJ is already at 7%, VA sees a 5% rate, but many local towns and cities will impose an additional sales tax for eating out at a restaurant, plus extra taxes for hotels, motels and car rentals.
The personal income tax rates need to be reformed, like many other states have already. Perhaps the first $10,000. shouldn't be taxed at all. Then have two brackets above that..such as 3% to 5% for adjusted personal income levels from $10,001 to $100,000. And then the higher rate above $100,000 and so on. Or, a real radical idea...a flat income tax, just like the sales tax. Allow for some limited credits and deductions.
I doubt any hard decisions will be made on cutting back perks such as pensions after 15 years of service for police, etc.
Raise it to 20 years to 25 years.
That's my take on it. I live in upstate NY. I know all about living with high taxes!

Posted by: Bob H. | July 12, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I agree that there are better ways to fix the budget without raising taxes. I pay enough in taxes already. Let's get smarter about the way things are done. Change the welfare system to a workfare system. If you want a check either attend state sponsored classes to learn a skill 4 days a week and the fifth day if you have kids then you work at a daycare where your child is being cared for, or be assigned an internship implementing the new skills being learned. Education is the key to a better life, not raising taxes.

Posted by: Joe | July 18, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

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