Maryland's 'Big 7' officials worry about impact of proposed tax cuts Baltimore, 6 county leaders want to meet with governor

November 16, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and leaders of the state's six largest counties yesterday shared a collective angst over the impact of proposed cuts in state and federal income taxes.

The group, which calls itself the "Big 7," also decided that it should share those feelings with Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who advocates a state tax cut as a key to attracting jobs to Maryland.

At its working luncheon in Anne Arundel County, the group agreed to ask Mr. Glendening to attend the next Big 7 meeting, Dec. 14 at the Columbus Center in Baltimore.

The mayor and county executives said they are worried that a state tax cut would force major reductions in state aid for education, social programs and other government services. Those reductions would be on top of expected losses in federal aid.

Each Big 7 jurisdiction would be losing about $10 million in education aid even as it is trying to improve the job skills and employability of its residents, said Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III.

"The bottom line is, what is going to make us more competitive?" Mr. Ruppersberger said.

Henry Bogdan, an aide to Mr. Schmoke, said lawmakers also could foist some state services -- such as prisons -- and their costs onto the local governments. For example, he said, they could require the counties to shoulder greater responsibility for housing less dangerous criminals.

Prisoners sentenced to 18 months or less now serve their time in county-run jails. The state could try to save money by pushing inmates sentenced to three years or less into the local detention centers, Mr. Bogdan said.

Most of the executives appear resigned to the inevitability of a tax cut.

"I guarantee you the legislators in my county are out front, screaming for a tax cut," said Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary.

"The question is going to be the amount."

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