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Moco Lawmakers Divided Over Tax Replacement

Montgomery County lawmakers are deeply divided over a proposal floated this week by Gov. Martin O'Malley to allow for the repeal of Maryland's new sales tax on computer services partly by imposing a surcharge on the income of millionaires. See the story in today's Metro section for more on the proposal.

Because about 40 percent of residents who would be charged the higher income tax rate reside in Montgomery, legislators from the county are split on whether to support the proposal.

Sen. Rona E. Kramer (D-Montgomery), who chairs the county's Senate delegation, said she wants the computer services tax repealed, but would prefer cuts in transportation spending than changes in the income tax structure.

"Montgomery County already does the yeoman's share of supporting the state budget," she said. "It's absolutely inappropriate for one jurisdiction, Montgomery County, to pick up the tab for 50 percent of one tax."

Del. Luis R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery) said he is frustrated to see his county become the "last refuge of unimaginative people" during budget crises.

"The tax is always imposed on us," Simmons said, adding that he thinks state leaders perceive Montgomery as a land of wealthy suburbs that is immune to the social ills that require government spending. But he said much of the county is middle-class and struggling during the economic downturn.

"I'm not trying to give you gobbledygook, but if you take a cumulative effect of these tax increases, what you will get is a migration of people out of the county," Simmons said.

"It has nothing to do with defending the millionaires," he added. "I'm not a millionaire. I'm just concerned about us taking hits on many different fronts and the confluence of those is going to hobble our economy."

Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said he is "disinclined to change the income tax brackets."

"We worked hard on them and reached what we think is an appropriate compromise in the special session," Frick said.

But other Montgomery legislators said they favor a more progressive income tax structure, even if it disproportionately impacts their county.

"I have to represent all my constituents, not just the millionaires," said Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery). "I think those folks can afford to pay more state income taxes, especially in the wake of enormous federal income tax cuts that they have benefited from for the last six years."

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) said he thinks lawmakers should step back and consider whether raising the tax rate is good public policy, irrespective of the consequences for his county.

"I understand that people say it would hit Montgomery County harder than some other jurisdictions, but we don't get taxed by jurisdiction," Frosh said. "I don't perceive it as a geographic issue."

-- Philip Rucker

By Philip Rucker  |  March 27, 2008; 2:06 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Oh, geez, I'm so happy to see that someone recognizes that some of us in MoCo make less than $100k a year....

And Frosh can go suck an egg. That man never met a tax he didn't like. Let's start taxing lawyers and see how fast he jumps ship.

Posted by: Liz | March 27, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

My Senator, Rob Garagiola, shepherded the computer tax through the State Senate where it originated without public hearings. He is Deputy Majority leader and was the deciding vote in a 24-23 vote in favor of this dumb-down-Maryland tax. Now he wants to increase the income tax even more. Is he nuts?

Hucker supported raising the sales tax which taxes every person every day. You hasn't seen a tax you don't like, have you Tom?

Thank goodness for Senator Kramer and Delegate Simmons. They are the voices of reason.

Why don't we replace the computer tax by cutting state aid to Baltimore City? They get $1 for every quarter they send to the state. Montgomery County is the other way around.

Leggett wants to give us the largest property tax increase in 20 years after increases in the sales, income, computer, csar and corporate taxes and hikes in Metro, water, and electricity fees while gas goes to $4 a gallon and our 401k's tank in a recession.

Help! Some of our elected officials should be placed in the public square in stocks. With friends like these, we don't need any enemies.

Vote Mark Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief. Vote for our November ballot question which makes it more difficult to exceed the charter property tax limit.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | March 27, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Anybody smart should avoid Montgomery County. Record increases in Income and Property Taxes. Avoid Montgomery County like the plague. ABMC.

Posted by: Don't come to Montgomery County | March 28, 2008 4:06 AM | Report abuse

you elected martin o'malley, montgomery county. you deserve this as a direct result of the votes. i for one will have no sympathy with the state taxing mont. co. even more and with leggett taxing you more locally while building himself a golden throne. you asked for it, now you got it. cry me a river.

Posted by: serves mont. co right | March 30, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again...Ike Leggett wants another huge property tax increase after big increases in sales, income, computer, food, gas, water, child care, electricity and the excessive MD gov spending continues.

Email MC County Council Prez Knapp and his VP, their email addresses are on the web site under contact the council. Say you do not support new tax increases. Remember what Ficker wrote about the November ballot question to make it more difficult to exceed the charter property tax limit.

Blogging here is not enough...people have to call, email and write now. Let their impatient voices be heard. Remember in Network when the guy started screaming "I am mad and I can't take it anymore!" Most MC residents are not millionaires, wake up people! We are going to get skewered. I wrote to all my representatives encouraged friends and neighbors to do the same.

Posted by: Lola | April 1, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Will the millionaire tax apply to CASA De Maryland? Or does the $2 million per year that they get from taxpayers not count as income?

Posted by: Citizen Montgomery | April 1, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

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