March to Crossover - Week 9
As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
The big news this past week was the House's passage of the Blueprint for Maryland's Future, legislation to implement the so-called Kirwan Commission recommendations. The bill's provisions include additional resources for students who need it (impoverished, English as a second language, special needs); increased pay and support for teachers; expanded pre-K; a focus on career and college readiness; and a new accountability system. You can read the legislation and background analysis here.
Because we have a balanced budget requirement each year--unlike our friends on Capitol Hill--we need to address how to fund these expanded programs. A number of ideas have been floated including applying existing taxes to further goods and services; increasing the tobacco tax; sports gaming; and legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana. A bill to raise significant revenue by taxing almost all services failed in Subcommittee, but a package of much smaller tax changes is proceeding through the process.
Two committees have sent legislation of mine to the floor this week and I am cautiously optimistic a few more pieces of legislation will move before the week is out. The first bill is the County Tax Fairness Act, which addresses repayments the County government owes to the state government for the Wynne Supreme Court decision which found that certain tax refunds were due to County residents. The residents have been compensated but stretching out the government-to-government repayment schedule improves our County's cash flow and eases the pressure on County taxpayers. The second bill is the 21st Century Economy Sales Tax Act, legislation that applies the sales tax to digital goods as 30+ other states do. I appreciate that no one likes paying taxes, but as goods we used to buy in physical form shift to digital (e.g., music, books), we need to account for that in our tax code.
A few of the bills I have drafted have received media coverage lately. The Maryland Department of Transportation Promises Act was covered by Maryland Matters and Bethesda Magazine. The Washington Post covered the Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act Alterations bill. Finally, the Capital News Service wrote about the Electric Bus Transition Act.
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