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Maryland House and Senate Leaders Review Tax and Slots Plans

On November 19th, 2007, top legislative officials came home from a breakfast meeting with Gov. Martin O'Malley, optimistic that his slots and tax proposal will be approved by the General Assembly as soon as possible.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch commented that he expects a vote regarding the slots proposal on Thursday, followed by a meeting between the Senators and delegates over the differences regarding their plans on how to produce more profit. He and Senate President Thomas V. Miller commented that with a bit of luck, the session could be finished by Friday.

House officials received the eighty-five votes necessary to put the slots referendum on the November 2008 ballot and the state Senate has refused to adapt the House version of Gov. O'Malley's revenue proposal. Some major differences exist between the versions of the House and Senate but Miller commented that they can compromise, if the House approved the slot machines.

O'Malley had a similar belief after a meeting with the Board of Public Works. The House's proposal puts the burden of paying more taxes to high income earners than the Senate proposal. The House also put a corporate tax reporting clause known as combined reporting which authors say will block multi-state corporations from stashing profits elsewhere for tax related purposes which business groups commented is just a problem and will not give any benefit to the state in any way.

Miller commented that his chamber's twenty-four-twenty-three vote in favor of the tax plan means that future modifications will have to be carefully planned. Miller said that they can make some modifications regarding combined reporting and they can make some changes regarding to combined reporting and the income brackets. He added that they are able to convince every Senator in Montgomery County to vote for the tax proposal except for one. The question is that if they will increase the tax brackets, will they lose any votes from Montgomery County?

O'Malley commented that his attempts to scale down state property taxes were dismissed in both chambers were the big question mark surrounding the slots proposal. He said that most legislators want to see whether Maryland voters will approve of the plan next year before making any tax cuts. He also urged the House to approve the slots bill, which proposed to put 15,000 slot machines in five locations around the state, one in Baltimore, Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties.

The Senate President, who has been a supporter of the slots proposal, expressed hope that Busch, which is the General Assembly's chief slots critic, will give the votes the needed for the approval. He added that he is not sure that the slots proposal will pass the house but if it is dismissed, it is not the fault of Busch or O'Malley.

Gov. O'Malley said that he was frequently talking with the delegates, often stressing the points of his case. He said that supporters are continuing to look for support in the House in order to put the question before the voters.


Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Darren G. Strachan