House Democrats tie taxes to pressing needs

Tuition relief, construction of schools part of agenda

January 09, 2004|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

The Democratic leadership of the House of Delegates put a new spin on two tax issues yesterday by tying them to two pressing needs: school construction and tuition relief for public college students.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said his leadership team would back the measures as part of a five-point agenda for the legislative session that opens Wednesday.

One of the tax measures would close a so-called loophole that allows a business to avoid the real estate transfer tax by creating a limited liability corporation to own each property. Busch said House leaders would dedicate the money raised by changing that provision to public school construction needs. The bill would require counties to use their share of that tax for school construction and would direct the state's share toward helping poorer jurisdictions.

The speaker said the measure would let jurisdictions like Baltimore and some counties receive 90 percent of school construction funding from the state rather than the 75 percent they would otherwise receive.

Busch said House leaders would also bring back a measure, vetoed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. last year, eliminating another so-called loophole that allows companies to avoid corporate income taxes by shifting revenues to Delaware holding corporations. This year's bill, Busch said, would dedicate the increased tax revenue from changing the law to a system for limiting tuition increases at state colleges.

Other measures would create a state do-not-call list for telephone solicitors and provide financing for victims of Tropical Storm Isabel whose insurance reimbursements haven't provided enough money to meet federal home repair standards.

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