Ehrlich warns of tax hikes if not returned to office
Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Wednesday pitched his plan to roll back a 20 percent increase in the state sales tax and raised the specter of numerous other tax hikes if he is not elected in November, telling a Baltimore County gathering "what you see here is potentially our future."
Speaking to about three dozen people gathered on a back patio in the politically friendly territory of Dundalk, Ehrlich shared a list of 43 taxes on services, including gym memberships and automobile maintenance, that he said Democratic lawmakers could impose if he does not get his old job back.
Legislators considered but rejected many of the items on the list in a special session in 2007 during which they increased the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and raised several other levies to help address a looming budget shortfall.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has accused Ehrlich of being a "scaremonger" on taxes. Though he has not categorically ruled out raising taxes to balance the budget if re-elected, the Democratic incumbent has said it is something he would like to avoid.
Ehrlich first proposed his plan to roll back the sales tax in April when he announced his candidacy. He has not said how the state would make up the lost revenue, suggesting instead that the tax reduction would fuel economic growth. Ehrlich on Wednesday told his audience, which included several young families, that cutting the sales tax would "encourage more shopping here in Maryland."
Ehrlich also blasted Democratic lawmakers for imposing a three-year surcharge on the income of millionaires, saying that the 2008 decision had contributed to the state's fiscal woes.
Ehrlich appeared noticeably sluggish as he arrived at the event. He later told reporters that was due to medication he is taking for recent neck surgery to relieve pain associated with his college football career.
"It was something that was not going to get better," Ehrlich said of his decision to have surgery during the campaign. "It was something that had to be done. ... We're on the road to recovery."
August 12, 2010; 5:45 AM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , John Wagner
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