O'Malley Summons Special Session; On the Budget, Governor Says, 'The Time for Delay Has Passed'
Post, 16 Oct 2007 (Wagner).
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) yesterday ordered the Maryland General Assembly into a special session starting Oct. 29 to consider his proposals to resolve a $1.7 billion budget shortfall by raising several taxes and legalizing slot-machine gambling.
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O'Malley's proposals include overhauling the state's income tax so that upper-end earners would pay more but most taxpayers would get a modest break; gradually reducing the property tax; and raising sales, tobacco, corporate and vehicle titling taxes.
But the governor's toughest sell, it appeared yesterday, will be his plan to generate $550 million for the state from the legalization of slot-machine gambling at racetracks and other locations -- an issue that has paralyzed the legislature in previous years.
Note: Although the Post's Wagner makes one brief mention of Republican opposition to the special session, he fails completely to report that there is or may be opposition to O'Malley's proposed tax increases, and seems to be repeating only the Democratic party line about the causes of Maryland's deficit.O'Malley calls special session
Times, 16 Oct 2007 (LoBianco).
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Skepticism about Mr. O'Malley's budget plan and about his chances of success has increased since he ended his statewide tax tour last month.
"The governor has put together a tax plan which he believes benefits 85 percent of voters," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Southern Maryland Democrat. "I think the public is very dubious about that."
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, was in New York yesterday and unavailable for comment, though he has advised against calling a special session and still opposes legalizing slot machines.
Mr. O'Malley's tax package also has drawn the attention of national anti-tax activists.
"Instead of cutting spending to deal with the deficit, O'Malley has the temerity to increase government spending and fleece taxpayers' hard-earned dollars to pay for it," said Nachama Soloveichk, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Club for Growth.
Mr. O'Malley has asked lawmakers to increase the state sales, gas, corporate and income taxes and legalize slot machines — either by legislation or through ballot votes in 2008.
He also wants to increase car-titling fees, close corporate-tax loopholes and cut education spending by $207 million in his next budget.
In addition, the plan calls for cutting the state property tax, increasing tax exemptions for senior citizens and decreasing the income tax for low-wage earners.
"There's one very simple alternative to coming together and forging a consensus, and that is to default," he said. "The alternative is pretty damaging to the quality of life all of us cherish as Marylanders."
Mr. Miller said yesterday Mr. O'Malley does not have the support of lawmakers to get the proposal passed and counseled him against calling a special session.
"There is not consensus," he said. "The governor does not have the votes."
Note that unlike the Post, the Times' LoBianco does report on organized opposition to O'Malley's proposed increases. Also, the Times report is somewhat more specific about the actual proposals, and actually quotes a Republican opponent.O'Malley confident on session; Miller doubts governor has votes for tax-and-slots plan
Sun, 16 Oct 2007 (Drew).
Note: Includes more details than either the Post or Times, as well as more information about Republican opposition. Probably the most complete and balanced report in the four big newspapers today. (The Examiner does not appear to have published an equivalent report--their lead on Gov. O'Malley today was "O'Malley off to Ireland, again").Back to work
Sun, 16 Oct 2007 (Editorial supporting O'Malley's plan).