Montgomery County Senators and The ‘Millionaires Tax’

Posted on March 27, 2008

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As the days dwindle down in the Maryland General Assembly’s 2008 regular session, the most fascinating question in Maryland politics will be: Which of Montgomery County’s state senators are Democrats, and which ones are really Republicans in disguise?

Gov. Martin O’Malley has adjusted his progressive income tax proposal to focus only on millionaires. O’Malley is not aiming at people whose net worth is over $1 million. That would be a very large club, even with the decline in housing and stock values. No, the so-called Millionaires’ Tax would be a surcharge on a a few wealthy taxpayers who earn over $1 million in a single year. How does that compare with your paycheck?

Montgomery County is Maryland’s largest jurisdiction, having passed Baltimore City some years back, and Montgomery has the largest State Senate delegation. All eight Montgomery County senators are listed as Democrats, but lately they are a rather conflicted group of Democrats. Some of them are talking like Republicans in disguise.

Some of these Democrats are very reluctant to collect sufficient tax revenue to pay for the common good of all Marylanders. These “Democrats” are particularly reluctant to tax the very wealthy. O’Malley’s surcharge would increase the top income tax rate for the very wealthy from 5.5 per cent to 6.25 percent. John Wagner and Phillip Rucker report in today’s Washington Post that out of more than 2.6 million taxpayers in Maryland, the millionaires’ tax would apply to fewer than 7,000 millionaires statewide. So what’s the problem? No one argues that these 7,000 millionaires would be hurt, or would even notice, the slightly higher tax bill.

The “problem” for certain Montgomery County senators is that about 41 per cent of Maryland’s million-a-year earners live in Montgomery County. Doing the math, that would be fewer than 3,000 millionaires out of 1 million people in Montgomery.

So the question is, are Montgomery County’s state senators Republicans who represent the 3,000 swells who earn over a million a year, or are Montgomery County senators Democrats who represent the other 997,000 Montgomery County residents?

Some Montgomery Democrats to keep an eye on: Sen. Rona Kramer, District 14; Sen. Jennie Forehand, District 17; Sen. Richard Madaleno, District 18; and Sen. Nancy King, District 39. Just my opinion. More to come. — Bernie Hayden

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Posted in: Maryland, Politics, Taxes