Md. Senate Discussing Governor's Plan to Address Deficit.
wtopnews.com, 7 Nov 2007 (Witte, AP).
* * *Comment: Yes, Sen. Currie, there is another solution--have the common sense and honesty to live within your income instead of robbing the honest poor and working people of the state who will have to tighten their belts and see jobs lost in order to feed your voracious appetite for more and more money.
With all the changes, O'Malley conceded he could no longer claim that 83 percent of Maryland residents would pay less taxes. But he said the House still has to act and that the Senate was the more cautious and conservative body.
In wake of the changes, a family with a household income of $40,000 would pay an estimated $87 more in taxes, according to a new analysis by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. A family with household income of $75,000 would pay $166 more, and a family with income of $150,000 would pay $332 more. A family with income of $750,000 would pay $2,253 more.
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Sen. Ulysses Currie, who chairs the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, told lawmakers Wednesday that the state has been "holding things together with Band-Aids" and "living hand-to-mouth in the budget for each of the last five years." He said it was time to "find the courage to get this done now" and share the pain that will result in a solution.
"If we fail, we will be simply sticking our heads in the sand," Currie said. "The problem will not go away, and there are no magic solutions that will appear between now and January," when the legislature convenes for its annual session.
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Md. Budget Crisis: Committee Gives Preliminary OK to Expanded Version of O'Malley Tax Plan.
Southern Maryland Online, 7 Nov 2007 (Fletcher).
A Senate committee gave preliminary approval Tuesday to Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to raise hundreds of millions through increased income, sales and other taxes, but not before changing it to raise even more than originally sought.Conways says cuts may put new voting system on hold; Budget cuts put new voting system for Md. in question.
The Tax Reform Act of 2007 was passed 9-6 by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee late Tuesday, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert, said he hoped to have a vote by the full Senate by Wednesday afternoon.
"It's an excellent product," said Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George's and chairman of the committee, after Tuesday's six-hour voting session. "It's the first time we've ever stepped up and addressed the deficit."
Delmarva Daily Times, 7 Nov 2007 (Wyatt, AP).
Baltimore Examiner, 7 Nov 2007 (Wyatt, AP).
(and other sources under varying titles)
Maryland may not be getting new voting machines after all.
A legislative subcommittee mulling budget cuts on Tuesday to address a state shortfall considered cutting $3.3 million from the State Board of Elections. That money was to be used to change the current voting system to one that uses paper ballots.
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Some other cuts got a more lukewarm reception from lawmakers.
For example, the House committee debated whether to eliminate cost-of-living raises for state employees, who otherwise would get 2 percent raises for a tab of $62 million next year.
Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee seemed skeptical about that cut.
"Have we ever thought about the actual cost of living, about the cost of oil and gasoline and milk and butter and everything?" asked Delegate Tawanna Gaines, D-Prince George's.
A budget manager for the state agency that proposed the cost-of-living cut, David Juppe, conceded that employees' buying power would decrease if they lost the 2 percent raises. State employees also face higher charges next year for their retirement, which means take-home pay would actually decrease without the 2 percent raises.
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