ANNAPOLIS, JAN. 10 -- Montgomery County lawyer R. Robert Linowes and the Schaefer adminstration are mounting an increasingly aggressive campaign to sell Marylanders an idea that most politicians think the public has already rejected: the need for $800 million in new taxes.

To legislators who deride the ideas he spent three years developing as head of a special tax study commission, Linowes's message is direct: "I expect to win . . . . I hope and expect it to be short-range."

During the last weeks, Linowes and other commission members have undertaken a 10-speech-per-week schedule, with plans for possible television advertising in the works. The commission's efforts are the most visible of a so far inconspicuous campaign by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to enact this year the most comprehensive set of state tax changes in more than two decades.

The aim, Linowes said in an interview, is a sort of tax revolt in reverse, with educators, county officials, business leaders and homeowners pushing legislators to approve a plan Linowes said will make Maryland stronger through better schools, roads and other basic services.

"Nobody wants to pay new taxes . . . and that is a given," Linowes said. "But when people are asked are you willing to help support a better education system . . . the answer is 'yes.' Ask the same question on transportation, the answer is clearly 'yes' . . . . This is good and fair for Maryland."

Sen. Laurence Levitan (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said Linowes is like "a voice in the wilderness. I don't find any of my colleagues who have expressed any real interest in the report . . . . I have yet to see a letter from anybody saying people are ready" for new taxes.

In the midst of a state budget crisis, Schaefer has remained uncharacteristically coy about the tax-overhaul plan, endorsing it "in concept" but refusing to reveal publicly when, or even whether, he will move for approval of its sweeping changes.

Privately, however, it's a different story.

Since releasing the recommendations in November, Linowes and other commission members have accepted every speaking engagement they can arrange. Former Schaefer press secretary Robert Douglas, now a lawyer in Baltimore, has been drafted to lead a committee of state officials and citizens that will fine-tune the marketing effort, which may include TV commercials if money can be raised to pay for them.

Schaefer, for his part, has briefed college presidents on the plan and today will be host to a group of prominent business leaders he wants to enlist in the cause.

"We have the possibility of doing it in the current legislative session," Schaefer wrote in his invitation to the governor's mansion luncheon.

"It is a complicated package. And it is not something that explains itself," said Douglas, who is developing a "road speech" and other campaign-style materials that he said will be used to present the plan everywhere from "the editorial board of The Washington Post to the Moose Club in Lonaconing," a small town in Western Maryland.

Legislators, including some social liberals who sympathize with the plan's proposal to redistribute wealth to poor jurisdictions, say the chances for immediate success remain dim. With the economic climate bad and citizens angry over property tax bills, approving the Linowes plan this year would be precipitous, said House Speaker Pro Tem Nancy K. Kopp (D-Montgomery). Kopp said her opinion is shared by legislators from throughout suburban Washington and Baltimore, the areas the tax increases would hit hardest.

Linowes argues otherwise. After transforming what was conceived as a technical review of the tax code into a broad work of social policy, he and other commission members intend to sell their ideas directly to the public.

"Those who are doing most of the blowing of the wind are the politicians. And the general public seems to be ready to listen . . . They {politicians} misread the election as being no new taxes".

The buzz of activity is in marked contrast to Schaefer's public statements on the tax plan, which was drafted with the intent of making Maryland's tax system more progressive and providing poorer jurisdictions, most notably Baltimore, with more money for basic government services.

In a briefing with reporters before Christmas, he said he thinks that his order from the electorate in November was for no new taxes. He insisted that the plan's recommendations would not be used to resolve the current budget crisis.

That stance, aides say, is primarily tactical rather than philosophical. Administration officials say the governor anticipates that as the budget deficit grows, legislators will soften their post-election stance against tax increases to save popular programs. Then they may look at the Linowes ideas differently.

"Linowes's {plan} will have to be budget-driven," said Schaefer's chief legislative aide, David S. Iannucci.

In addition, administration officials feared that immediately pushing for the plan's approval would give opponents a clear target at which to shoot.

"If {Schaefer} had come out and said, 'I am for Linowes exactly as it is,' it would be dead today," Schaefer aide Daryl C. Plevy said. "It would have given people something to be against."

Instead, the watchword is patience. The commission recommendations probably won't be part of the legislative package Schaefer will send to the General Assembly next week, but aides said the governor likely will seek part of the plan later in the 90-day session.

Which of its elements he pursues, however, will depend in part on the reaction Linowes receives as he travels the state trying to build support.

The commission's recommendations include raising the sales tax from 5 cents on the dollar to 5 1/2 cents on the dollar, extending the sales tax to an array of services such as cable television and lawn care, imposing progressive income-tax rates that shift the burden to families with incomes above $40,000 and instituting an annual 2 percent personal property tax on cars and boats. By mandating property tax reductions for all homeowners and granting income-tax relief to lower-income people, the plan envisions lowering the tax bills of most Marylanders while providing every county some additional revenue.

Controversial ideas, to be sure. But Linowes insists that once educators, county officials, business leaders and ordinary citizens realize that the money will improve schools, roads and other services, they will push their legislators to approve the tax plan.

Skeptics abound. Republican legislators requested recently a list of the donors who underwrote the tax study after the General Assembly refused to fund it. The fact that much of the commission's $171,000 budget came from Baltimore-based institutions set conspiracy theorists atwitter.