All 6 Carroll Legislators Say 'No Way' To Tax Increases

April 03, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — Carroll's six state legislators each voted Monday against raising taxes intended to generate about $90.1 million to balance next year's budget and restore cuts in state aid for education.

The delegation split evenly in its vote on the $11.6 billion budget proposal, which stipulates that $65.4 million in state education aid for counties would be cut if the tax package were not approved. In each chamber, the budget vote preceded the tax vote.

The proposed cuts in Action Plan for Excellence, known as APEX, afund used to improve local school programs and teacher benefits, would mean a $2.5 million reduction in Carroll's public schools budget.

The budget and the tax package passed both chambers. The tax plan expands the state's 5 percent sales tax to cigarettes and increases the excise tax from 13 cents to 16 cents; imposes the 5 percent salestax on certain food sales, including purchases of less than $1; and either eliminates or reduces tax breaks for capital gains, depending on income levels. The governor can veto the tax plan but not the budget.

Carroll's House members said they voted against the tax increase to honor campaign pledges and because it appeared constituents opposed any new taxes, regardless of the threatened budget cuts. Delegates Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard,and Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, contended that deeper cuts to government agencies could have been made to avoid a tax increase. But Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, said doing so would be harmful.

"We couldn't do it without a lot of pain," he said. "There's no fat in the budget. We're into programmatic cuts. But evidently, that's what people want."

LaMotte said he voted for the budget, despite opposing the taxes, because "Maryland needs it" to continue functioning.

Elliott said he opposed the taxes because they could be permanent, rather than temporary measures to address the state's projected $192 million 1992 budget shortfall.

"When we have an economic upturn and things are plush again, do you think anyone will try to repeal these taxes?" he said. "It's just another tax. I still feel this was a year to trim government to a greater extent than we did, not a year to raise taxes."

Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, previously voted for a Senate tax plan that involved cigarettes and food sales but rejected the ensuing compromise that reduces capital gains benefits.

"The capital gains tax is a disincentive for production and growth," he said.

Matthews was the only Carroll legislator who voted against the governor's bill addressing the $553 million deficit in the current year's budget. Matthews objected to a $22.2 million transfer from the state's transportation fund to its general fund, saying road construction would suffer.

Realizing the bill would pass, he said he voted against it as a statement against the state's influential Democratic leadership.

"We'll see better management of state spending when we get a stronger two-party system," he said.


Here is how Carroll's legislators voted on budget-related bills:

* HB 206: Addresses a $553 million deficit in the current year's budget through reductions and a variety of fund transfers. Yes: Delegates Richard N. Dixon, Donald B. Elliott and Lawrence A. LaMotte and Sens. Charles H. Smelser and Larry E. Haines. No: Delegate Richard C. Matthews. Result: Passed House, 113-16; passed Senate, 41-6.

* HB 650: The state's $11.6 billion fiscal 1992 budget proposal, which makes $65.4 million in cuts in education assistance for counties contingent on the tax package passing. Yes: LaMotte, Smelser, Haines. No: Dixon, Elliott, Matthews. Result: Passed House, 110-19; passed Senate, 40-7.

* HB 707: Raises $90.1 million in taxes on cigarettes, food and capital gains, $65.4 million of which would restore cuts to regional education budgets. Yes: none. No: Dixon, Elliott, LaMotte, Matthews, Smelser, Haines. Result: Passed House, 93-36; passed Senate, 27-20.

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