Carroll Legislators Study Budget, Drug Legislation

Delegates Do Flip-flop On Revenue Measures

March 13, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — Carroll's four House of Delegates representatives voted Saturday against two tax proposals designed to raise enough money to restore proposed cuts next year to counties, which include major reductions in Carroll's Resident State Trooper Program and education budget.

But two of the delegates -- Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, and Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore -- then voted for the fiscal 1992 budgetbill, which includes the additional revenue-raising measures.

"We have to have a budget bill passed," said Dixon, whose House Appropriations Committee cut about $200 million from the governor's proposal and helped devise the tax package to compensate for a projected revenue shortfall in fiscal 1992.

"There will be differences with the Senate. We'll have another chance to vote on an amended bill, which I may or may not vote for."

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is expected to complete its own deliberations on budget requests this week and begin comparing its numbers to the House plan, saidSen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, a committee member.

A joint House-Senate conference committee will resolve differences.

"It's too soon to tell" if the Senate committee will approve, reject or modify the House's contingency tax proposals, said Smelser.

"If we make some of the reductions we've talked about in committee, we won't need the taxes," he said.

Delegates Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, and Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, voted against the $11.6 billion spending plan, which represents about a 1 percent increase over this year, the least growth in about 45 years.

Elliott said he believed the tax proposals could have been eliminatedby making deeper budget cuts.

The four delegates voted against a measure that would expand the state's 5 percent sales tax to cigarettes and tobacco products. The bill passed the House, 105-28.

Three of the delegates voted against a proposal to reduce tax breaks on income from capital gains -- profits earned from the sale of stocks, bonds or property. The measure was approved by a 91-40 vote.

Dixon asked to be excused from the vote because the bill could benefit his business. He is an assistant vice president at Merrill Lynch, a brokerage firm.

Both measures combined are projected to raise about $74 million in fiscal 1992, the amount tentatively cut from Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City in state assistance for education, fire and police protection, social security contributions, and property taxrelief.

The budget bill includes a contingency clause saying that50 percent of the $74 million in local aid reductions would be restored with the passage of each tax proposal. A total of $2.23 million in cuts was proposed for Carroll, including $520,080 for resident troopers and $772,500 for education.

Carroll delegates said they did not wish to back down on a pledge to constituents to vote against any tax increase.

"If I was hard-pressed, I might have voted for it," said LaMotte, "but I wasn't pressed hard enough."

They also said they believed linking the tax package to aid for counties was a political ploy designed by House leaders to leverage votes for the proposals and might have been abandoned for alternatives later in the session.

"I don't think the Resident Trooper Program would have been cut out," said Dixon. "Let's face it, no one's going to cut police protection."

The budget passed by a 112-24 vote. Seventeen of the House's 25 Republicans voted against the budget bill, as did five Democratsfrom Baltimore City, a subdivision that lobbied unsuccessfully for increased assistance through new tax sources.

Matthews voted for anamendment to the budget offered last week by the minority leader that would have reduced the spending plan by $23 million by forcing agency heads to trim 2 percent from staff budgets. It was rejected 114-15.

Elliott said he objected to making across-the-board, flat-rate cuts.

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