ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O'Malley stressed the need for tax and spending increases in this year’s General Assembly during his State of the State address Wednesday, drawing mixed reactions from Democrats and admonishment from Republicans.
Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, reiterated his desire for tax hikes to fund what he considers necessary programs such as education and job-creating infrastructure projects, and he touted his proposals to implement an offshore wind-energy project and legalize same-sex marriage.
During the 33-minute speech, the governor painted an optimistic picture of Maryland as a state rebounding well from the recession, but he said new schools and roads are needed to ensure a brighter future.
“There are costs and there are values,” he said. “We cannot kid ourselves into thinking that by failing to invest in our future we are somehow saving resources.”
Mr. O'Malley submitted a $35.8 billion proposed budget last month that would raise income taxes on many wealthy and middle-class residents, essentially double the so-called “flush tax” and raise taxes on items including cigars and music downloads.
The increases would fund capital projects that he says will improve residents’ quality of life and create more than 50,000 jobs.
The governor also is expected to formally propose that lawmakers institute a sales tax on gas, which would rise to 6 percent over three years and fund road and transit projects.
Sen. James Brochin said he and other Democratic lawmakers are concerned that the governor’s proposed tax increases are too ambitious and that his income-tax hikes dip too deep into the middle class.
Mr. Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat, said lawmakers are most concerned about the gas tax and that tacking on a sales tax to raise already-unpredictable gas prices could be a nonstarter.
“Leadership is going to be shocked when they see moderate Democrats and some liberal Democrats say, ‘You know what, enough is enough.’ “
“Maryland is doing well, but it could be doing better and the governor wants to make us do better,” said Mr. Miller, Prince George’s Democrat. “These are bold initiatives in very difficult times, and the proof of his work product will be on the final day of this session.”
Mr. O'Malley’s proposals also drew harsh reactions from GOP lawmakers who said he has relied too heavily on boosting revenues rather than cutting spending.View Entire Story
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David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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