Struggling to resolve Maryland's growing fiscal problems, state lawmakers are beginning to say what most were loath to admit before last November's election -- that taxes will have to be increased. Soon.
The state is facing a $300 million deficit, expected to grow to $700 million by 1993. Sen. Laurence Levitan, one of the General Assembly's most respected fiscal leaders, admitted last week at the Maryland Association of Counties that a 1 percent sales tax increase is virtually inevitable. But even that won't be enough to close the deficit gap. Levitan and others -- including Governor Schaefer -- now seem resigned to a special session of the legislature to come up with ways to put more money into the state's coffers. The likelihood is that there will be some kind of income tax increase as well as a gas and sales tax hike.
That's a grim outlook but there may be no viable alternatives. Several legislative committees have concluded that there simply is no more fat to be cut from the budget. Significant savings at the state level can come now only through reduction of money to local governments, tax increases or both.