Tax Relief

Home Republicans renew requires tax relief in wake of funds surplus

Mar. 14—CUMBERLAND, Md. — House Republicans are proposing tax relief in light of Maryland’s latest estimate of a $7.5 billion budget surplus.

“Marylanders need and deserve tax cuts right now,” said Del. Jason Buckel (R-Allegany), House minority leader, in a Thursday news release.

Maryland’s budget surplus has ballooned from $2.5 billion to $7.5 billion, according to the Board of Revenue Estimates.

“Inflation is 7.9%, the highest in 40 years. Gas prices are setting historic highs and rising daily,” Buckel said in the release. “Our citizens are struggling every day while our politicians in Annapolis are sitting on a pot of taxpayer dollars, doling them out to their pet projects and special interests. The most important interest group in our eyes is the Maryland taxpayer and we should give them their money back.”

So Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan and top legislative leaders agreed Thursday to a 30-day suspension of the state’s gas tax amid rising prices at the pump. The tax, which is nearly 37 cents per gallon, requires legislation.

“Our Republican Caucus is fighting in Annapolis to give you your money back through real cuts to the gas tax, retirement income tax, and through reductions for middle class taxpayers and families,” Buckel said in a later Facebook post. “It’s simply criminal to not pass true, significant tax reform now given our incredible budget surplus.”

According to the release, a tax relief package that recently passed the House of Delegates generated “a mere $95.4 million, which is just 1% of budget surplus.”

Local delegates Mike McKay and Wendell Beitzel agreed that tax relief is needed.

“They need to be game changers … such as addressing retirement, things that can stop people from leaving Maryland and going and retiring somewhere else,” McKay (R-Allegany) said.

“Maryland needs to relax more of their business regulations and taxes. I definitely favor putting a pause on the gas tax. It can’t be just not collecting sales tax on a toothbrush or diapers. Some of the tax relief the majority is calling for is not really tax relief. It’s election day antics or lipstick on a pig.”

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Beitzel (R-Garrett, Allegany) said he is skeptical about getting “anything meaningful passed.”

“We would have to do more specific bills in order to get anything passed,” said Beitzel. “In reality, it will be tough to accomplish even with these surpluses.

“There is an appetite, even among the majority party, to increase the rainy day fund, so we distribute out over time the amount of spending we are going to do, so that we don’t do things that drive the cost of the things up that become part of the operating budget. It will be hard down the road if we don’t have income and we start having to look at structural deficits again.”

Greg Larry is a reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email glarry@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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