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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Cutting Taxes In Maryland The Easy Way: Talking About It

MARYLAND GOV. Martin O’Malley (D) has been a prolific tax-raiser, having advocated or acceded to some 40 new or increased levies since taking office almost seven years ago. Those tax hikes have generated almost $10 billion, according to one conservative group’s estimate, which the governor has not tried to refute. They have helped pay for generous spending on public schools, higher education and the state’s transportation network and social programs.

Little surprise, perhaps, that in the race to succeed Mr. O’Malley, the pendulum has swung back toward tax cuts. In the context of an improving economy, that’s for the good; no doubt, plenty of Marylanders would appreciate keeping a greater share of their income. But candidates have an obligation to explain how they intend to offset any loss of revenue, especially since several of them also propose new spending.

Del. Heather R. Mizeur, the most liberal of the three Democratic contestants, has floated a soak-the-rich plan while simultaneously promising to cut personal income taxes for 90 percent of Maryland taxpayers. It’s not clear whether the math would work, but her program would do nothing to help the state’s already tepid climate for business. She also proposes huge spending on education, transportation and much else, with highly speculative means (such as legalizing and taxing marijuana) to pay for it all.

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