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O'Malley Demands That Wealthy Pay "Fair Share"

In another apparent effort to prepare Marylanders for looming tax increases, Gov. Martin O'Malley today released a recorded statement to radio stations suggesting corporations and higher-income earners will be among those asked to pay more.

"When given a choice between decline and progress, the people of Maryland always choose to make progress," O'Malley (D) says in the message, which runs more than two minutes and was sent to more than 50 radio stations, an aide said. "Together we can overcome the deficit in our path, and we can get our fiscal house in order in a way that improves our state and makes us stronger."

The state is facing a shortfall of nearly $1.5 billion next year, which O'Malley and leading lawmakers have said could require an increase in the sales tax, among several other steps, to help close. O'Malley also touts budget cuts his administration has already made in the radio message.

"Working with elected leaders in the General Assembly, we are also going to need to reform our tax system in a way that makes it more modern, more inclusive and more fair," O'Malley says. "Especially more fair for the working families of our state who have been taking it on the chin for the last few years. This will mean closing loopholes for big giant corporations and - yes - demanding that the wealthiest among us pay a fair share."

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said the radio message was one of several that O'Malley has released to radio stations on important issues since taking office in January.

Separately yesterday, a coalition of environmental groups released eight proposals that they said could generate $706 million in savings and new revenue, some of which could be plowed back into environmental initiatives.

The biggest-ticket item -- stopping the Intercounty Connector, a planned highway between Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- is not likely to materialize. The group said halting the project, which O'Malley supports, could save the state $540 million next year. That money, however, would not help solve the $1.5 billion shortfall in the general fund because it is coming from a seperate pot of money devoted to transportation needs.

Other ideas proposed by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and allied groups are likely to generate more debate. They include:

* Establishing a "green fund" that would impose fees on developers for "impervious surfaces." The proposal, which cleared the House of Delegates in a similar form this year but died in the Senate, could generate $100 million a year, the groups said.

* Increasing solid waste fees on disposal companies, generating $35 million.

* Ending a coal-mining tax credit, which could save $7.7 million.

* Establishing a wetlands permit fee for developers, generating $3.6 million.

By John Wagner  |  August 9, 2007; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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