Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler on Monday denounced a mailer sent out by his leading Democratic rival, saying a claim that he wants to cut corporate taxes at the expense of funding pre-kindergarten education is “completely false.”
The mailer produced by the campaign of Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown questions Gansler’s “puzzling priorities” and includes a photo of the attorney general made to look like a jigsaw puzzle with several pieces missing.
The mailer contends that Gansler “says no to universal full day pre-kindergarten ... but says yes to $1.6 billion tax giveaway to corporations.” It asserts that Gansler “doesn’t share our values.”
“There’s not a true syllable in it,” Gansler said in an interview Monday, adding that it was “over the top” that Brown was spending money to campaign negatively against him at this point in the race.
The Brown campaign stood by the content of the mailer, which refers to Gansler’s plan to gradually reduce Maryland’s corporate income tax rate from 8.25 percent to 6 percent — which would match the rate in Virginia.
Under Gansler’s proposal, the corporate tax rate would drop by a quarter percentage point annually — meaning it would take at least take nine years before it hit 6 percent. Aides say Gansler would slow the pace of the phase-in if the cuts weren’t having the desired effect on the economy.
Brown’s figure of $1.6 billion in lost revenue reflects an estimate of the cumulative loss to the state treasury over the entire nine-year phase-in.
Gansler contends the lost revenue would be offset by growth in the tax base as Maryland becomes a more attractive location for corporations. He has also proposed closing a corporate tax loophole that he says would offset part of the lost revenue.
According to Gansler’s campaign, his plan would cost only $35.6 million during the first year of the phase-in.
All three major Democratic candidates for governor — Gansler, Brown and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery) — have offered plans to expand taxpayer-subsidized pre-kindergarten education. Of the three plans, Gansler’s is the least ambitious and the least costly.
Gansler has pledged to expand the state’s current pre-K offerings from half-day to full-day programs and increase the eligibility cutoff from 185 percent of the poverty level to 300 percent.
He has said that expansion beyond that is not affordable in the short term but that he would like to make pre-K “universal” at some point in the future, as his rivals have proposed more immediately.