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  •   Candidates Answer Income Tax Question

    Thursday, August 6, 1998; Page M04

    With this issue, The Washington Post Weekly starts a new feature, a question for each of the gubernatorial candidates about their campaign platforms.

    Question 1: Maryland is reducing the personal income tax rate by 10 percent over five years, with the initial 5 percent reduction taking place this year. Should personal income taxes be adjusted further? Why or why not?

    Parris N. Glendening (D):

    We must be responsible in any further tax cuts. The state has an obligation to meet important needs. I will not sign tax cuts that endanger the investments we have made, and must continue making, in education. That is why we waited until the state's fiscal health improved before passing the tax cut we have now passed -- the first cut in personal taxes in Maryland in 30 years. And for the first time in 52 years, we went through a four-year term without any new taxes or a tax increase.

    The economy is booming. Employment is at an all-time high, and unemployment is at a nine-year low. This gave us the economic position to accelerate the 10 percent tax cut we passed last year. We are cutting taxes by 5 percent this year.

    We are, and will continue to be, fiscally responsible. We must protect our coveted AAA bond rating. We must be prepared for any slowing in the economy -- and we have kept a $700 million reserve to offset any slowdown. Besides cutting income taxes by 10 percent, we reduced or eliminated 15 different business taxes; provided tax relief for the working poor and tax relief to poor and elderly homeowners.

    We must be a compassionate government as well. We're proud that we took action to eliminate the waiting list for disabled services, provide 60,000 children with health insurance and expanded breast cancer screening programs.

    Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R):

    Definitely! Maryland has the second heaviest burden of personal income taxation in the country, according to the January 1998 issue of Governing magazine. Further, the June 1998 ranking of CFO magazine ranked Maryland sixth worst in overall tax environment while ranking Virginia 24th and Delaware 50th -- stiff competition. While Governor Glendening claims to have cut taxes over the past four years, the fact is that Marylanders now have to work a day longer to pay state taxes before their income is their own.

    Our tax burden is keeping business from relocating here, hurting job growth and driving our people to lower-taxed states. Two years ago, a report to Governor Glendening by the Maryland Economic Development Commission, under the direction of then-Secretary James T. Brady, recommended a reduction in personal income taxes of 15 percent by 1999, with an additional 10 percent reduction by 2005. The recommendation was ignored. After much prodding, Governor Glendening finally proposed a phased-in 10 percent tax cut . . . Mr. Brady was on the right track. As governor, I will ensure that the full 10 percent tax cut already enacted takes place, and I will lead the fight for another 14 percent tax cut beyond that. If Michigan can cut taxes 24 times in a seven-year period and, in the process, leave over $12 billion in the private sector, creating over 500,000 new jobs, Maryland can do a lot better than the pittance that Governor Glendening has reluctantly allowed.

    NEXT WEEK: The candidates answer a question about their education platforms.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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