House panel OKs budget plan to reduce annual property tax bills about $100

March 17, 2005|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Annual property tax bills for many Marylanders would decrease about $100 under a $25.7 billion state budget plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee yesterday.

The committee decided to use $163 million in real estate transfer-tax revenue to reverse a tax increase agreed to by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. two years ago as part of an unpopular budget-balancing move.

Under the House of Delegates initiative, property taxes would drop about $48 per $100,000 in assessed property value, said Warren G. Deschenaux, the Assembly's top budget analyst.

The full House is to debate the budget Monday and approve it next week.

Senate leaders, however, are cool to the tax-cut plan. Their version of the budget is not expected to contain the reduction; the disagreement would be sorted out by a conference committee of negotiators.

Yesterday, most Republican members of the appropriations committee, including House GOP leader George C. Edwards and whip Anthony J. O'Donnell, voted against the tax cut, calling it irresponsible.

The budget committee trimmed $150 million from the governor's proposed spending plan to bring it in line with state affordability guidelines based on projected state income growth.

House members removed 400 positions from the nearly 80,000-person state work force. Most were vacant, but the committee identified several dozen jobs filled by appointees loyal to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. that they want to eliminate, many in the state transportation department.

House members also reduced to $60 million from $120 million the amount of rising health care costs to be borne by state workers. The Senate is expected to agree with the decision.

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