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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Johnson makes plea to delegates to raise property tax

Johnson makes plea to delegates to raise property tax; Council has not taken a position; delegates voice concerns.
Gazette, 5 Feb 2009 (Valentine).
In his first public speech on a tax increase, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) told a panel of 17 state delegates Wednesday that raising taxes will be the only way to avoid laying off county police and teachers and prevent making deep budget cuts this summer.
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Johnson was alone in asking for the increase on Wednesday. Delegates questioned the proposal for two hours without voting, noting that even County Council members would not speak in its favor.

"This legislation is new to us. It just came out," said Council Chairwoman Marilynn M. Bland (D-Dist. 9) of Clinton, who sat beside Johnson as he made the proposal, along with council members Samuel Dean (D-Dist. 6) of Mitchellville and Camille Exum (D-Dist. 7) of Capitol Heights.
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The prospect of raising taxes is already creating a political nightmare for delegates and county lawmakers, who have been fielding angry e-mails and calls since the proposal was reported by The Gazette earlier this week. Johnson is in his last two years as executive due to term limits, but several County Council members, delegates and senators all face a potential run for office in November 2010.

Some legislators have called the proposal "political suicide."
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"We could be doing some real heavy lifting, only to have our limbs cut off," said Del. Marvin E. Holmes Jr. (D-Dist. 23B) of Kettering.

"We'll take it to the floor for you — if we have to," Del Gerron S. Levi (D-Dist. 23A) of Bowie told council members after the meeting. "But we don't know if we're there yet."
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"You're asking us to override the local government," said Del. Anne Healey (D-Dist. 22) of Hyattsville. "This homestead tax was set by referendum years ago."

(Posted 5 Feb 2009)

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