Tax revenues lag, leaving state short of its projections

STATE DIGEST

September 15, 2007

Tax revenues are coming in more slowly than expected, leaving Maryland about $132.5 million short of its projections for the current fiscal year, Comptroller Peter Franchot said in a letter yesterday.

Based on data gathered since the fiscal year began in July, Franchot's office expects sales tax receipts to increase 2.5 percent this year, well short of the 4.8 percent estimate Gov. Martin O'Malley used when preparing his budget. That disparity amounts to $115.5 million, Franchot wrote.

The estimates reflect uncertainty in the economy, volatility in the stock market and the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis, Franchot wrote. News of national job losses in August indicate that the risk of a recession has increased, he wrote. Franchot said it would be best to wait until after the December meeting of the Board of Revenue Estimates before making decisions on how to tackle the deficit.

"The current volatility in the economy argues for going slowly when making big fiscal decisions," Franchot said.

O'Malley has cut more than $200 million from the budget, so the estimates are not likely to require immediate action.

The governor is completing a plan to address the projected $1.5 billion deficit in next year's budget, and he has said he would like to hold a special legislative session to enact spending cuts, tax increases and new revenue sources, such as slot machine gambling, perhaps in November.

"Today's news confirms that the budget situation is only getting worse," said O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney. "It bolsters the need to act to protect to protect our ability to make progress on education, public safety and health care, which make up 80 percent of the budget."

Andrew Green

Washington Co.

: Hagerstown

2 men charged in death of father

Two men have been charged with murder in the death of their 85-year-old father after police found him bound to a chair with a leather dog leash in the living room of the mobile home the three men shared.

Police said yesterday that Robert C. Record died April 5, about a month after emergency medical workers were called to Lakeside Mobile Home Park. Rescue workers found him sitting in his own waste, unresponsive, dehydrated and covered with bed sores.

"I've been a social worker for 33 years, and this is the worst case of elder abuse that I've ever seen," said David A. Engle, director of the Washington County Department of Social Services.

An autopsy concluded that Record died of complications from dehydration, bed sores, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said.

Kenneth A. Record, 61, and Gerald W. Record, 46, were arrested Thursday and were being held in lieu of $750,000 bail. They were indicted by the Washington County grand jury on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and abuse or neglect of an adult.

Associated Press

Prince George's

: Beltsville

Wreck survivor faces long hospital stay

Julian McCormick, the Bowie State student trapped upside-down for a week a wrecked car, will remain at Washington Hospital Center for the "foreseeable future," being treated for cuts and undergoing physical rehabilitation, his mother said yesterday.

The 18-year-old musician from Laurel remains "in a lot of pain" but can talk and eat, Peggy McCormick said. His car crashed into a ravine in Beltsville on Sept. 1, authorities said, and nobody found him until Sept. 8, when he crawled to safety and a passer-by saw him lying beside the road.

His story received national attention because he survived so long in his overturned Honda Civic, stuck in his seat belt and drinking out of a stream until he freed himself with a pocketknife.

Tom Pelton

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