- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ANNAPOLIS | The General Assembly closed its special session on Wednesday by granting final approval to a set of tax and revenue increases.

The House approved a two-bill revenue package that will raise income tax rates on single residents making more than $100,000 a year and couples making more than $150,000, and will shift a portion of state-paid teacher pension costs onto local jurisdictions.

The income tax increases will affect the top 13 percent of earners and add $247 million in revenues to the state’s $35.5 billion budget.

House lawmakers debated the bills for about three hours Wednesday with Republicans and some Democrats arguing that tax increases will overburden residents and shifting pension costs will force local governments to cut services and raise taxes.

Supporters contended that the bills will allow the state to better fund education and other public services.
The House, which is more than two-thirds Democratic, passed the tax bill by a relatively narrow 77-60 vote and approved the pension-shifting bill 86-51.

Both bills passed the Senate on Tuesday and must now be signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The assembly also passed a bond bill Wednesday that will dedicate $15 million to school construction. Lawmakers passed the bill during their regular session but had to pass it again over concerns that they may have violated state law by passing it before the budget.

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