House approves tax increase, sends bill to O'Malley

May 16, 2012|by Annie Linskey

The House of Delegates voted 77 to 60 this afternoon to increase income taxes on the top 14 percent of Marylanders, finishing up business left undone when lawmakers gridlocked at the end of the regular session in April. It still needs to be signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, who introduced the legislation.

The measure completes a spending package that will undo a so-called Doomsday budget that would have cut into Democratic priorities like education and health care. The tax increase will hit roughly 300,000 taxpayers -- individuals who make more than $100,000 and joint filers who earn over $150,000.

Earlier in the day the House also approved a companion measure that shifts the teacher pension costs to the counties, a move that Republicans say will cause the counties to increase local taxes. It passed 86 to 51.

Arguing against the bill, House Republican leader Anthony O'Donnell said to the ruling Democrats: "We will fight you continuously on this issue. ... It is not that we are opposed to the good things that government can do. We know there is a balance that can be struck."

In his floor comments, O'Donnell acknowledged that passage was a foregone conclusion. "Of course we know what is going to happen with this vote, it is not a mystery."

The Senate still must receive the legislation, a procedural move, and then adjourn.

The special session went off as smoothly as the regular session was rough. The Senate wrapped up work in two days -- the House needed two and a half. There were no late nights. No early mornings. And tempers were calm.

A number of lawmakers commuted to Annapolis to keep the hotel costs down. Leaders estimated that the special session cost $20,000 a day -- mostly from expenses. Lawmakers are paid a set salary, and did not receive any financial bonus coming back into session.

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