Maryland Senators Vote on Millionaires’ Tax

Posted on April 3, 2008

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The defining issue of Maryland’s 2008 General Assembly session broke almost cleanly along party lines on Thursday.

The State Senate voted, 30-17, to repeal the tax on computer services, which would have produced about $200 million in needed revenue, and replace it with a “Millionaires’ Tax” that is expected to produce about $120 million a year for the next three years. The bill also cuts $50 million a year in spending from transportation projects.

Only four Democratic senators — two of them from Montgomery County — voted against the tax solution bill. Republican senators were nearly unanimous in opposing the bill. Presumably Republicans hated the concept of a Millionaires’ Tax so much that they were willing to swallow the computer services tax, which they also hated. Only one Republican joined Democrats in voting to eliminate the computer tax.

What do these four Democratic senators have in common, other than voting against the Millionaires’ Tax?

  • Sen. Rona Kramer, District 14, Montgomery County
  • Sen. Richard Madaleno, District 18, Montgomery County
  • Sen. Jim Brochin, District 42, Baltimore County
  • Sen. Roy Dyson, District 29, St. Mary’s County, part of Calvert County and a little bit of Charles County

There are various points of view within the Maryland Democratic Party on nearly every issue. That’s one reason that a majority party is the majority — because it’s big enough to accommodate differing points of view. It’s easier for a small minority to stay united — and to stay small.

The Millionaires’ Tax has become an issue that clarifies fundamental values between the parties.

The Republican Party is fundamentally against taxes, and particularly against taxing the wealthy. Republicans believe that the wealthy are the most productive members of society, and should be left completely free to pursue profit wherever it may lead.

The Democratic Party believes the community should promote the well-being of all its citizens. Some Democrats go so far as to argue that the community has a special responsibility to the poor, the sick, the aged, the children. Democrats’ belief that government has responsibilities to all the people leads logically to the conclusion that government must raise revenues to meet its obligations. Choose whatever you really want, the author Marsha Sinetar would say, and then willingly pay the price.

So what do Senators Kramer, Madaleno, Brochin and Dyson have in common?

The easy and obvious answer, the first thing that comes to mind, is that all four senators received a free pass in the 2006 Democratic primary election. Their experiences in the general election, however, were different. I need to think about this some more.

Three of Montgomery County’s eight Democratic senators sit on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. They are Sen. Kramer, Sen. Madaleno, and Sen. Nancy King, who represents District 39. Sen. King is serving her very first year in the Senate. Unlike Sen. Kramer and Sen. Madaleno, Sen. King supported Democratic values by voting for the Millionaires’ Tax in both the committee and on the floor of the Senate.

“This is a really, really hard vote for me,” Sen. King was quoted as saying in The Washington Post. Sen. King said the Millionaires’ Tax bill was better than the alternative, which was cutting an additional $100 million a year from transportation projects, as offered by Sen. Madaleno and supported by Sen. Kramer (what were they thinking?)

Sen. King got it just right, don’t you think?

It is hard to do the right thing, sometimes. That’s especially true when the right thing requires voting against the rich and powerful, and for the poor and powerless.

My Aunt Leola, when she was very old, used to say, “It’s not easy, you know.” – Bernie Hayden

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Posted in: Maryland, News, Politics, Taxes