WESTMINSTER — No new taxes, State Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, told farmers and business people Thursday morning.
"Right now, I'm not voting for any tax increase," he said at the monthly Agribusiness breakfast at Baugher's Restaurant.
But other legislators probably will, he said.
"If I had to bet on it today, I'd bet there's going to be a gas tax increase," Smelser said in a briefing on the upcoming state legislative session.
Smelser, a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said he's not too keen on a tax reform plan proposed by R. Robert Linowes, a Montgomery County lawyer who headed the governor's Commission on State Taxes and Tax Structure.
"There's not too much wrong with the tax structure in Maryland as I see it," Smelser said.
He said he couldn't support the commission's proposal to adda 2 percent annual excise tax on motor vehicles and pleasure boats or its plan to tax services such as cable television, dry cleaning andhair care.
"I certainly wouldn't vote for anything like that," he said.
This session, legislators will be working to find ways to save money, he said. The state faces a budget deficit of almost $425 million.
"If the executive and legislative branches cooperate, we can certainly solve this problem," he said. "It's not all bad to have a deficit" because it will force government to "shake out some fat."
Smelser said a plan to manage growth statewide probably won't go anywhere this session.
"I don't think it will see the light of day this year," he said. "What it boils down to is state control of local land."
The governor's Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region, released in November, recommends that counties and municipalities submit planning proposals to the state for approval.
"We have to keep land use closer to the people," Smelser said.
The senator said legislators should "use a little ingenuity and imagination" to solve the budget crunch.
"It will take a lot of hard work, but we'll get it worked out," he said.
Smelser, a member of the House of Delegates from 1955 to 1963, has been a state senator since 1967.