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UPDATE: O'Malley to sign controversial Pr. Geo's tax measure into law

Jonathan Mummolo

Gov. Martin O'Malley will sign into law Tuesday a tax measure passed by the Maryland General Assembly that has become a focal point of debate in this year's Prince George's County budget process, according to a list of bills to be signed that was released by O'Malley's office.

The bill, SB 683, would give residents a break on taxes they pay to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in the county, an independent agency that in recent years has increasingly helped fund the county's operating budget. The bill would also cost the commission an estimated $18 million next fiscal year in tax revenue, which, some have argued, will make it hard to supply more than $60 million in commission money to the county as part of County Executive Jack B. Johnson's proposed budget.

Johnson has said the commission can afford to give the assistance, and recommended the agency make cutbacks similar to the ones the county has made during the economic downturn.

Just last week, an O'Malley spokesman said the governor was still on the fence about signing the bill, weighing the relief it would give to residents against the potential revenue dilemma it could cause for the county. Vetoing the bill, as one county executive candidate recently called for, would have been a risky move for O'Malley, whose Republican opponent, former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has made cutting taxes a central plank of his campaign platform.

The continued assistance from the commission in the county budget has also drawn criticism from a Wall Street ratings agency, Fitch Ratings, and other critics, who say reliance on the money could lead to budget holes and a downgrade of the county's bond rating in the future. A lower bond rating would lead the county to pay more interest on borrowed money.

A call to O'Malley's spokesman seeking comment Tuesday morning was not immediately returned.

UPDATE, 5:39 p.m.
A spokesman for O'Malley said signing the tax measure into law was a "tough decision," but that providing tax relief to residents in Prince George's won out.

"I think ultimately, he came to the conclusion that given the national recession, that a small bit of tax relief for the residents of Prince George's County was preferable in this particular case, but it was a tough decision for him, and he had to balance that with the cut in revenue that the county would face," said O'Malley's spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese.

"The governor...having made $5.6 billion in cuts to state government--I think he thinks that the county can make up the difference, and hopes they do it in a responsible way."

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  May 4, 2010; 6:35 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , General Assembly , Governor , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  | Tags: Martin O'Malley, Maryland General Assembly, Prince George's County Maryland, Robert Ehrlich  
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This idiot Jack Johnson has created so many new taxes since he came into office it's hard to keep count. Telephone tax, a tax on heating oil, etc... These new taxes are exclusive to PG County. And he still contnues to rape the citizens of this county. Anyone who ever voted for him needs his head examined!

Posted by: gpl2411 | May 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Remember,research and relive the reimburstment by Jackie Johnson to Mikey Jackson, Sheriff gunning for PG County Executive this fall. Need we say more about these 2 and please do the underscore of these sores in the pores Jack and Mike.

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | May 4, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I do not disagree with your assessment of Mr. Johnson as County Executive or as a person, but we need to keep facts in mind for why we believe the way we do. The energy taxes have been in place for a very long time. Without doing research, I would place them in the late 1970s or early 1980s. They were specifically authorized by the General Assembly. Montgomery County has a very similar energy tax system. The telephone or more properly the telecommunications tax was not only authorised by the General Assembly but authorized in a way that then CE Wayne Curry and the County Council, except Walter Maloney, believed was required to be levied in the amount of 8% of the gross bill for local, long distance and mobile services. Montgomery County also taxes telecommunications services. Every single tax levied by the County is specifically authorized and in many cases limited to a specific amount or percentage by actions of the State. Some are specific to Prince George's but most follow a general law or a general pattern of authorized taxes common to all Maryland counties. Please see the Tax-General Article and the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland for specifics.

The idiot Jack Johnson is not responsible for new taxes; he is responsible for poor administrative choices to head the operating departments, political patronage on a scale that would even shock Parris Glendenning, and wasting economic resources and opportunities that put the County into the economic bind it is in now. How much money has been poured down the hole at Dimensions Hospital system under Jack Johnson? How many times has he announced a comprehensive solution to public health care and hospital systems?

Posted by: ralphgrutzmacher | May 4, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

While taxes on telecommunications for 911 were in place Jack most definitly added a telephone tax. And I don't remember paying the energy tax which was added to my bill last year. And he has added so many upper level positions in government it is sickening. But we can agree, Jack is an idiot.

Posted by: gpl2411 | May 4, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

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