Special Session Round-Up for Tuesday
Maryland's three-week special session came to an end shortly after 2:30 a.m. on Monday. Maryland lawmakers raised the state's sales, corporate income, tobacco and vehicle titling taxes, writes The Posts John Wagner. "This is the boldest move, the boldest action, on the part of any governor I've served with," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.
Republican leaders said the special session will be remembered mostly for its frantic pace and for the largest tax increase in Maryland history, says an article in The Post. Common sense and reason went out the window just to give the governor a victory," said Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick). "I think this whole thing has been a debacle, and taxpayers are stuck holding the bill."
Here is a selection of news and links from around the web that supplement The Post's coverage.
Republicans accuse Democratic lawmakers of not allowing ample time for legislators or the public to consider the tax increases, reports the Associated Press. "The entire process has been flawed," said Senate Republican Leader David Brinkley of Frederick.
What will be the fate of the slots referendum? "I believe slots will be soundly defeated by Marylanders who care about everyone and recognize the fraud slots would perpetrate upon them as they enrich the rich at the expense of the poor without any net benefit to the average citizen," wrote Reisterstown resident Gary Gamber, in a letter to the Baltimore Sun.
"The set of tax increases probably hits businesses between the eyes more forcefully than it does any segment of our society," says Anirban Basu, principal of the Sage Policy Group Inc., in a Daily Record article. Out of the $1.4 billion O'Malley's tax package is expected to raise, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce says about $800 million will come from businesses.
Will an expansion of sales tax to computer businesses create a competitive disadvantage for Maryland?. "This tax will certainly encourage Maryland IT users to outsource their computer service needs to companies located in Reston, Va., or even Bangalore, India," said Roger Cochetti, director of U.S. Public Policy for the Computing Technology Industry Association, in an article on the Gazette's web site.
Will Democrats face voter criticism in three years for supporting tax hikes? Democrats took "customary precaution" by increasing taxes three years before the next state election in 2010, stated an Annapolis Capital editorial. "Taxpayers are livid now, but will they still be angry enough in 2010 to take it out on Mr. O'Malley and his legislative allies? You might call that the $1.3 billion question."
With O'Malley victorious, some Republicans went home "disappointed." Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, from Somerset, called the special session was "hugely" unsatisfactory, according to The Daily Times. "The taxes are just wrong," he said. "I think it set our state backward as far as economic development."
The health care reform bill passed during the session was lauded by health care activists, reports the Baltimore Business Journal. The General Assembly "passed a landmark health care expansion measure which takes Maryland to the top tier of states in health care reform," said Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.
Finally, the University of Maryland's Diamondback quoted college President Dan Mote as praising the governor's actions, which tie college funding to the passage of the slots referendum. "The governor and the legislators were faced with a tremendous challenge," he said. "From the point of view of the university, it showed great support of higher education."
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