Maryland Special Session – Questions and Accomplishments

Posted on November 18, 2007

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The three-week Special Session of the Maryland General Assembly has ended.

It accomplished much, most notably raising the revenue needed to close the state’s structural budget deficit and avert drastic spending cuts. As the legislators go home for Thanksgiving, questions remain. The two big questions:

  1. Is this tax package fair and progressive? The income tax brackets will be 4.75 percent for ordinary workers; 5 percent for the very affluent; 5.25 percent for the extra-affluent; and 5.5 percent for the highest incomes, $500,000 to CEO millions. The Assembly raised the corporate income tax from 7 to 8.25 percent. The other most notable features of the tax package are a one-penny increase in the sales tax and a $1 increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes. The sales tax and cigarette tax are clearly regressive.
  2. Is there any redeeming social value to this slot-machine gambling scheme? The people of Maryland will be considering that one for the next year. Gambling interests will not stand idly by.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch have applied their considerable leadership talents to the legislative process. The General Assembly has responded. The public will weigh the results.

One thing is clear. O’Malley emerges from the Special Session as a bold and decisive “can-do” leader. He knew what needed to be done. He put together a comprehensive and reasonable legislative package. He took a huge risk by calling a Special Session when the outcome was far from assured. He had the humility to treat the Assembly and its leaders as equal partners.

For more coverage and analysis, click on the media links on the Blogroll.  — Bernie Hayden

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