Ehrlich pushes 'no-brainer' military tax exemption
Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Tuesday said he would seek to exempt the pension income of Maryland military retirees from taxation, making good on a promise to veterans that he said was broken by legislative leaders.
"This is a no-brainer of all no-brainers," Ehrlich said, flanked by military veterans at a VFW Post in Ellicott City. "We want military retirees to live in Maryland."
Ehrlich, who is trying to win his old job back, said such legislation would cost $37 million a year and could be phased in over five years -- a price tag he called the equivalent of "a rounding error."
"It's very cheap," Ehrlich told reporters.
At a previously scheduled news conference outside O'Malley's campaign headquarters in Baltimore, Ehrlich's latest campaign pledge fed a line of criticism about unfunded promises.
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) said that as with a pledge last week to partially restore local transportation funding, Ehrlich had provided no plausible explanation about where the money for the veterans' tax credit would come from.
"What Bob Ehrlich has failed to do is offer the blueprint, the plan, the details on how, with a shrinking state budget, we are going to afford to extend that tax credit," said Brown, an Army reservist who served in Iraq.
Brown also suggested that Ehrlich was underestimating how much the full exemption would cost the state.
Ehrlich said that in 2006, during his final year in office, he received assurances that legislative leaders would pass legislation enacting the exemption. Instead, he learned late in the legislative session that they were only willing to pass a $5,000 tax credit.
"For four years, this has languished," Ehrlich said. "It needs to get done. It will be bill one from my administration."
Military retirees with more than 20 years of service would be eligible. Ehrlich said about half the states have a similar exemption.
At his news conference, Brown also railed against Ehrlich's fiscal record, which from 2003 to 2007 included a substantial spending increase, in part to fund growing education costs. Early in his tenure, Ehrlich also raised property taxes and fees to balance the state's budget.
"We know that Bob Ehrlich is good at making budget-busting campaign promises," Brown said. "But we also know from Bob Ehrlich's failed record that he just can't keep a promise. Bob Ehrlich says he wants to lower taxes, but he raised taxes as governor."
John Wagner and Aaron C. Davis
August 24, 2010; 1:22 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , John Wagner
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