Special Session Round-Up for Wednesday
Here is a selection of news and links from around the web that supplement The Post's coverage of the Maryland special session as of Wednesday, Nov. 7.
Budget cuts could mean the state's plans to move to a voting system that leaves a paper trail might not happen by the 2010 gubernatorial election, writes the Associated Press.
Worcester County's officials and citizens spoke out against the possibility of slots in their county at a Tuesday night forum with their state representatives, according to an article in The Daily Times.
"Marylanders should get used to the idea that transportation funding is going up in the years ahead, perhaps drastically," reads an editorial in the Frederick News-Post. "The state must maintain its current infrastructure and address the growing need for new projects. A viable transportation system isn't optional. Without it, everything -- everything -- comes to a grinding halt."
"There is one good feature to Maryland's income tax, and ironically it's the one that O'Malley wants to change," writes Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner in an op-ed published on the Indianapolis Star's web site. "The state has a flat tax. Everyone who earns more than $3,000 per year pays 4.75 percent in taxes. Flat taxes are fair taxes because they treat everyone equally. O'Malley wants to increase tax rates on higher earners to make the system more 'progressive.' But when a government increases tax rates, it penalizes productive behavior, such as work, risk-taking and entrepreneurship."
Republican Del. Susan Krebs wants to ensure that any gas tax money is earmarked for transportation projects, says a Carroll County Times article. "If you are going to put the increase on the motorists the money should go to highway projects," she said.
West Virginia needs to be prepared for a big impact on its gaming business depending on what Maryland does, writes MetroNews columnist Hoppy Kercheval. "West Virginia's gambling revenues have been exceeding expectations for years, largely because of a lack of competition," his column states. "But as other states have seen the amounts of money involved the competition gets fiercer."
"O'Malley likes the easy, expedient answers. Tax the poor. To the regressive lottery add slots. Maybe we could follow Nevada and open casinos; New Jersey did it," a Germantown reader writes to the Gazette. "Whatever you do, Mr. O'Malley, don't spend the money on the people who pay. We know where the lottery money comes from, but do the schools in poor neighborhoods get the latest stuff?"
On the budget plan, communications consultant Barry Rascovar writes in the Community Times: "If the whole thing falls apart, O'Malley's popularity could plunge. But he knows Democratic lawmakers will go the extra mile to avert that. A compromise is still the most likely outcome."
From the Diamondback, which has followed education funding closely during the session: "Tuition hikes could be back in the university's future after the state legislature took away funds designed to go directly to public colleges and universities."
Can a crab cake dinner win over a legislator? Peter O'Malley, Smith's chief of staff and brother to Gov. Martin O'Malley, and Sean Malone, Gov. O'Malley's deputy legislative officer, dined at Sen. Roy Dyson's favorite crab cake restaurant, the Sandgate Inn in Mechanicsville," writes the Towson Times. "The meeting, which was billed by both sides as a social call, included discussions about supporting the governor's legislative proposals to close a $1.7 billion state budget deficit."
"An adage among lawyers is that you shouldn't holler before you're hurt. An adage among politicians is that if you don't holler at tax-raising time, you'll get hurt," writes Lou Panos in the Baltimore Messenger. "Among those hollering loudly and most effectively in Annapolis these days are lobbyists for companies that would be hurt by the governor's proposal to plug up a legal loophole that enables them to dodge taxes on certain income by channeling it to out-of-state subsidiaries."
Marylanders might not support slots in their own backyards, suggests a column in the Maryland Gazette. "Something similar is at work in the 61 percent approval for slot machines - a figure that is remarkably consistent from poll to poll. Would that sort of majority still want slots if it were emphasized that we're not talking about some slots, played by some suckers, somewhere - we're talking about thousands of slots in Anne Arundel County?"
From The Post, a Senate budget panel yesterday scaled back Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to raise taxes for high-income earners and suggested applying the state sales tax to several services that were not in his proposal.
-- Compiled by David P. Marino-Nachison
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