It’s been tried at least twice before in the previous two sessions, but a new leader has emerged in the fight to repeal the 2007 O’Malley sales tax increase.
With the ascension of J.B. Jennings to the Maryland Senate, a similar bill to the one he introduced in 2009 and 2010 is now being spearheaded by freshman Delegate Justin Ready of Carroll County. (Introduced today, the bill is HB465.) A good sign of progress is that Ready has gathered 32 other sponsors to the bill, a group made bipartisan by the inclusion of Democratic Delegate John F. Wood, Jr.
In a statement, Ready pointed out that Maryland is a state with relatively close borders. Thanks to the increased sales tax, “businesses in Carroll County are really taking it on the chin because of our close proximity to Pennsylvania,” said Ready.
However, Pennsylvania’s sales tax is 6 percent like Maryland’s – the key difference is in the services covered. In fact, three of the five states (or districts) surrounding Maryland match the state’s 6% rate – Virginia has a 5% rate and, of course, as we all know Delaware has no sales tax. So that portion of Ready’s argument vis-a-vis Pennsylvania may not hold water, but any advantage we can get here on the Eastern Shore means something to us.
A somewhat moderating feature of Ready’s plan is that we’d have to wait two years for tax relief, as the rate wouldn’t go into effect until 2013 – presumably the economy will be on more solid ground.
Passing sales tax relief will let Maryland families know that help is on the way while also giving the state three budget years to get our fiscal house in order. Taxpayers have sacrificed repeatedly over the past few years with higher taxes and fees. The sales tax hits poor and lower middle class people hardest of all. Now is the time for government to sacrifice some spending and provide relief for our families and businesses.
(Yeesh…”help is on the way” – where have we heard this before? Obviously Justin doesn’t make the trip down here much or he’d know to avoid that phrase.)
Obviously I’m for the tax decrease, although the same idea didn’t do much to help Bob Ehrlich out. Still, I’m dismayed to see that two local representatives aren’t yet onboard as cosponsors. While Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio has lent her name to 32 bills thus far this session and cohort Delegate Charles Otto ten, neither have lent their backing to this common-sense bill as a cosponsor. One would assume they’d vote for the bill if it ever proceeds past the hearing stage (unlike the two predecessor bills) but I think that the party leadership – including the Minority Leader, Delegate Tony O’Donnell – needs to get behind this. So far he, too, is conspicuous in his absence.
If past history is any indication, the bill will get a hearing toward the end of the session in March and then be locked in the desk drawer of Ways and Means Committee head Sheila Hixson. It’s time to change that formula and give real tax relief to working Maryland families.