Time To Monitor Annapolis Is Now

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With all the talk of tax and fee increases, funding shifts and education mandates, it’s easy to get lost this year in all that goes on in the Maryland General Assembly.

The bottom line is simple. Maryland is overspending. It’s living beyond its means and has been for some time. That’s why there is a $1 billion budget gap — the difference between revenues and expenses.

Rather than continue to search far and wide for ways to simply cut costs and find creative ways to reduce how much it pays out, the state prefers instead to concentrate on new revenues. Unfortunately, that blinder mentality almost always comes at the expense of residents of this state.

Among the numerous bills seeking more money from Marylanders is the governor’s proposal to cut the mortgage interest deduction for residents who make more than $100,000 a year.

Under Martin O’Malley’s plan, an additional $119 million a year will roll to the state by reducing the amount of itemized deductions by about 10 percent for individuals and couples earning in excess of $100,000 in gross income. That number balloons to 20 percent for those exceeding $200,000.

How significant is this proposal? The answer is extremely. Numerous studies suggest the mortgage interest deduction represents nearly three-quarters of all deductions claimed in Maryland.

That this was even proposed is crazy to us. Those with household gross incomes of $100,000 should be watching this carefully. The governor and legislators need to understand a combined household income of $100,000 is not rich by today’s standards, and if they think this move will result in job creation (the top priority for the administration) and any sort of housing recovery they are mistaken.

The good news is Senate President Mike Miller has all but promised it will not pass his chamber. Miller is the most dominant political figure in Maryland and when he says a bill will “fall by the wayside”, as he told The Sun this week, that’s usually what happens.

Another important piece of legislation requiring attention is House Bill 1051, which calls for applying sales tax to services such as tax prep, property management, commercial cleaning, cell phones, cable television, security systems, a parking facility, barber or beauty expense, sign painting, interior decorating and extermination, among others.

Over the next month, there’s going to be a flurry of activity, much of which will be confusing but a lot will have to do with our incomes and what we will have to pay for services in the future. Pay attention, it’s worth the time.

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