Republican gubernatorial candidate Louise Gore yesterday called for a state tax convention in 1981 and proposed that yearly budget increases in Maryland be limited by a constitutional amendment, a concept that was also endorsed at a separate news conference by Acting Gov. Blair Lee Ill.
Gore said several other states - she cited Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado and Illinois - have adopted consitutional measures that limit annual spending. She said she preferred the method used in Tennessee, where the state budget cannot increase more than the yearly percentage increase in total personal income.
Lee, on the other hand, said he would favor a measure that would limit the size of the state budget - not including federal funds - to 7 percent of the total personal income in the state, a concept that is now being proposed in Arizona.
The acting governor, discussing the concept in a casual manner at his weekly press conference, admitted that if the proposal he favoured had been in effect this year it would have had no impact on the budget, which jumped about 13 percent from the year before.
"Our 1979 budget would have been easily within the guidelines," he told reporters. "But it would be protection against the future."
Lee said he did not know what percentage of the state's total personal income was used in the last budget because his administration does not have statistics on Maryland's total personal income.
Lee, considered a front-runner in the Democratic primary, is by no means alone in his call for a future cap on state spending. In this year of California's Proposition 13, few politicians in the state or country have not based their campaigns on the theme of lower taxes and reduced state spending.
The other candidates in Maryland's Democratic race - former state secretary of transportation Harry R. Hughes, Baltimore City Council President Walter S. Orlinsky and Baltimore County Executive Theodore G. Venetoulis - have all issued position papers or talked at length about their plans to limit state spending and lower the tax burden.
Gore, the conservative national committeewoman who is considered former Sen. J. Glenn Beall's major challenger in the GOP primary, said the limit on state expenditures should accompany a state constitutional convention on tax matters. She told a luncheon gathering that her first act as governor would be to call for such a convention.
Gore's proposal called for election of citizen delegates in 1980 and a convention in 1981. All tax proposals coming out of the convention would be brought to the voters in the 1982 general election.
Lee, when asked about the convention idea, said: "I really don't know if there's a need for it, that's normally the function of the General Assembly."