Bentley reveals her plan to assist small businesses CAMPAIGN 1994

September 10, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writer

With four days to go until Tuesday's primary, Republican gubernatorial candidate Helen Delich Bentley yesterday unveiled her plan to help small business, calling for the repeal of the state's so-called snack tax, which she said causes too much confusion for store owners.

Mrs. Bentley, a five-term member of Congress, also called for a review of state regulations to make them more business-friendly, creation of an ombudsman's position to help small business navigate the bureaucracy and the scaling back of state regulations that go beyond what the federal government requires.

The proposal is the latest position paper Mrs. Bentley has released, after avoiding in-depth discussion of issues for most of the campaign. Her opponents have accused her of ducking public debates to protect her lead in the polls, though in the last four weeks she has released statements on crime, welfare, and now business.

MA Yesterday, Mrs. Bentley called the snack tax -- a modest reve

nue producer that applies to some foods, but not others -- an excessive governmental burden on small businesses.

"Here you have potato chips that are taxed and chocolate chip cookies that are not taxed," she said, holding up the appropriate props. "This is nothing more than a nuisance tax for small businesses which raises the state a relatively paltry $11 million a year," Mrs. Bentley said in a prepared statement.

Mrs. Bentley made her remarks in front of a Dundalk-area dentalab to dramatize her interest in small business.

The tax on snack foods, enacted in 1992 to help close a state budget deficit, produced $12.4 million in state revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to the state comptroller's office.

Denis Zegar, president of the Mid-Atlantic Food Dealers Association, which represents about 1,000 grocery retailers, said was "ridiculous" for the state to tax snack foods but not more nutritious items. But, he added: "No one has told me that it's real confusing [for stores]. It may have been in the beginning."

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