By Joseph Gidjunis
The Daily Times
SALISBURY, MD---The Governor Martin O'Malley tax and budget reform tour is stopping on the Lower Shore today with a 30-minute presentation for local officials, business leaders and the public.
The Democratic governor has a 30-minute Powerpoint presentation prepared explaining the multi-step reforms he is proposing to generate revenues and savings to offset the state's $1.7 billion deficit. O'Malley is also expected to take a few questions after the speech.
Among the key measures in the governor's package:
- A 3-cent reduction in property taxes phased in over three years;
- Altering income tax percentages and adding a 6 percent and 6.5 percent level for incomes more than $200,000 and $500,000;
- Adding tax credits for seniors and low-income families;
- Expanding eligibility for the earned income tax credit;
- Raising the state's sales tax by 1 cent to 6 cents;
- Doubling the state's cigarette tax to $2 per pack to cover expanding health care coverage to Marylanders;
- Placing slot machines in several portions of the state, not just racetracks.
Rick Abbruzzese, O'Malley's spokesman, said the plan will reduce the deficit by adding dollars to Program Open Space, education, health care and transportation.
"Ultimately, the entire state stands to benefit from the package," Abbruzzese said last week. "Overall, the governor feels it is progressive and most Marylanders will benefit."
Wicomico County Finance Director Pat Petersen said the county's finances would likely vary little if the governor's proposal is approved. Although the technical details of the plan have not been released, the plan on paper would only decrease county revenues slightly, by lowering the adjusted gross incomes of seniors and low-income households who receive tax credits under the plan, Petersen said.
The governor's presentation will be part of his fourth visit to the Lower Shore since being elected last November.
Reprinted with permission of The Daily Times