Thursday, April 24, 2008

MoCo State Legislators on the Millionaire Tax

Preserved for eternity, here are the published comments and the votes by state legislators from Montgomery County (as well as remarks by the County Executive and County Council President) on whether a surcharge for millionaires should replace the computer services tax. Whether you agree with David Lublin or with me, the millionaire tax emerged as a major philosophical dividing line in the county delegation.

Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39), who voted against the millionaire tax, from the Post:

"You can only hit a cash cow so many times before they say, 'We're going to take our milk somewhere else,'" said Del. Charles E. Barkley (D-Montgomery).
Delegate Kumar Barve, the House Majority Leader (D-17), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Post:

House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) defended the repeal bill, modeled on an O'Malley plan, as "a balanced compromise" that would eliminate the computer services tax before it is scheduled to take effect July 1.

"You will be preserving the place of Maryland in the high-tech sweepstakes," Barve said. "I urge you to kill this thing, right here, right now."
Delegate Brian Feldman (D-15), who voted against the millionaire tax, from the Sun:

"A majority of the Montgomery County delegation have a lot of concerns," said Feldman, who said he hopes lawmakers will consider making deeper cuts in O'Malley's spending programs before raising taxes.

"Maybe this isn't the time for new initiatives," he said.
Senator Jennie Forehand (D-17), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Gazette:

But repealing the tax is a no-brainer to prevent computer firms from leaving the state, said Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville.

"Some of the things we passed in November has a negative impact in the counties and put them in a negative situation," she said. "Unlike the millionaires who are well-grounded and are making their money in the state, they won’t leave. But tech companies who would have been affected by this tax could easily have uprooted their businesses and moved."
Delegate Bill Frick (D-16), who voted against the millionaire tax, from Maryland Moment:

Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said he is "disinclined to change the income tax brackets."

"We worked hard on them and reached what we think is an appropriate compromise in the special session," Frick said.
Senator Brian Frosh (D-16), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Post:

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) said he thinks lawmakers should step back and consider whether raising the tax rate is good public policy, irrespective of the consequences for his county.

"I understand that people say it would hit Montgomery County harder than some other jurisdictions, but we don't get taxed by jurisdiction," Frosh said. "I don't perceive it as a geographic issue."
Delegate Hank Heller (D-19), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Gazette:

"I don’t think we have to apologize" for fighting higher taxes, said Del. Henry B. Heller (D-Dist. 19) of Leisure World. "Montgomery County, instead of [being] a major decision-maker ... will end up either being the obstructionists or having to go along with it."

The so-called "millionaires tax" will cause Montgomery residents to move across the Potomac River to Northern Virginia, weakening the economy, Heller said.
Delegate Tom Hucker (D-20), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Post:

"I have to represent all my constituents, not just the millionaires," said Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery). "I think those folks can afford to pay more state income taxes, especially in the wake of enormous federal income tax cuts that they have benefited from for the last six years."
Senator Nancy King (D-39), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Sun:

…Montgomery County Democratic Sen. Nancy J. King, said she would reluctantly opt for an income tax increase, "If I had to."
Montgomery County Council President Mike Knapp from the Gazette:

The tech tax repeal will burden Montgomery County residents unfairly, said County Council President Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown.

Of the state’s 6,150 millionaires, 41 percent live in Montgomery County; Baltimore County has the next highest number.

"Montgomery County is solving a statewide problem — again," Knapp told reporters in Rockville on Monday.
Senator Rona Kramer (D-14), who voted against the millionaire tax, from Maryland Moment:

Sen. Rona E. Kramer (D-Montgomery), who chairs the county's Senate delegation, said she wants the computer services tax repealed, but would prefer cuts in transportation spending than changes in the income tax structure.

"Montgomery County already does the yeoman's share of supporting the state budget," she said. "It's absolutely inappropriate for one jurisdiction, Montgomery County, to pick up the tab for 50 percent of one tax."
And from the Sun:

"I would not support it," Sen. Rona Kramer, a Montgomery County Democrat on the budget committee, said yesterday.

O'Malley's proposal is a political mistake, she said.

"He's coming to the one jurisdiction where he's still popular and saying: 'We're going to make you compromise again,'" Kramer said. "It's going to make him look terrible."
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett from the Post:

Leggett said he favors a repeal, partly because the planned tax significantly affects the thriving technology industry in the Washington suburbs. Leggett said, however, that he opposes raising the top personal income tax rate because a large number of wealthy Marylanders live in Montgomery and that he is wary of cuts to transportation funding.

"I want to be supportive of resolving this, certainly as it relates to this computer tax, but Montgomery County cannot be the sole source of solving a statewide problem," he said.
Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18), who voted against the millionaire tax, from the Post:

Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) acknowledged that the number of those who would be affected by the millionaires’ tax is small. "But this is a class of people who generate a lot of tax revenue for Maryland and Montgomery County," Madaleno said. "To create a disincentive for them to stay would be damaging to the rest of us."
And again from the Post:

"Opponents of this tax are not going to characterize it as a millionaires tax," said Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), a member of the budget committee. "It's going to be just another tax increase. . . . This is just more fodder for conservative talk radio."

Madaleno echoed arguments by other Montgomery officials, who have suggested that a higher income tax rate could prompt people who are creating jobs in the county to move. He suggested making cuts in transportation funding to repeal the tech tax.

Madaleno also questioned the political consequences in his county of the governor's support for the millionaires tax.

"I think it could be damaging to O'Malley in the part of the state where he probably remains the strongest," Madaleno said.
Madaleno posted an essay on this topic and others on Free State Politics.

Delegate Craig Rice (D-15), who voted against the millionaire tax, from the Sun:

"This is another ill-fated Senate move," said Rice of the Senate bill, which he criticized for not replacing the computer tax with a long-term revenue source. "We need to move forward with taxing other services."

By an 8-12 vote, [House Ways and Means] committee members also rejected a proposal from Rice that would have cut $150 million from transportation projects but eliminated the tax on millionaires.
And from the Gazette:

"I think Montgomery County has work to do," said Rice (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown. "I think as a delegation, we have got to do a better job at standing together on these things. We should not be balancing tax policy on one class of people."
Delegate Luiz Simmons (D-17), who voted against the millionaire tax, from Maryland Moment:

Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons (D-Montgomery) said he is frustrated to see his county become the "last refuge of unimaginative people" during budget crises.

"The tax is always imposed on us," Simmons said, adding that he thinks state leaders perceive Montgomery as a land of wealthy suburbs that is immune to the social ills that require government spending. But he said much of the county is middle-class and struggling during the economic downturn.

"I'm not trying to give you gobbledygook, but if you take a cumulative effect of these tax increases, what you will get is a migration of people out of the county," Simmons said.

"It has nothing to do with defending the millionaires," he added. "I'm not a millionaire. I'm just concerned about us taking hits on many different fronts and the confluence of those is going to hobble our economy."
Delegate Herman Taylor (D-14), who voted for the millionaire tax, from the Gazette:

"You’re exchanging one for the other," Del. Herman L. Taylor Jr. (D-Dist. 14) of Ashton said of the new income tax bracket. "I don’t know if that’s a good compromise. Just like the computer tax, we’re going to have to wait and see. Instead of hitting millionaires’ businesses, we hit millionaires directly."
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18), who voted against the millionaire tax, from the Gazette:

"The question is how do we replace those revenues in a way that is true to our progressive values and fair to Montgomery County," said Del. Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington.
And here is Senate President Mike Miller’s assessment from the Sun:

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said lawmakers from Montgomery County held the key to breaking the deadlock, noting that they were the most adamant opponents of both the "tech tax" and the proposed levy on those earning more than $1 million annually. He said the county also receives the most in state transportation funding, leaving its representatives reluctant to redirect that money.

The county "is in the eye of the storm," he said.
That it is, Mr. Miller. That it is.

The final vote tally among Montgomery County’s state legislators is:

For replacing the computer tax with a surcharge on people making $1 million a year or more:

Senator Brian Frosh (D-16)
Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15)
Senator Nancy King (D-39)
Senator Mike Lenett (D-19)
Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20)
Delegate Saqib Ali (D-39)
Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17)
Delegate Bill Bronrott (D-16)
Delegate James Gilchrist (D-17)
Delegate Hank Heller (D-19)
Delegate Sheila Hixson (D-20)
Delegate Tom Hucker (D-20)
Delegate Anne Kaiser (D-14)
Delegate Susan Lee (D-16)
Delegate Roger Manno (D-19)
Delegate Heather Mizeur (D-20)
Delegate Karen Montgomery (D-14)
Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-39)
Delegate Herman Taylor (D-14)

Against replacing the computer tax with a surcharge on people making $1 million a year or more:

Senator Rona Kramer (D-14)
Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18)
Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39)
Delegate Al Carr (D-18)
Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D-15)
Delegate Brian Feldman (D-15)
Delegate Bill Frick (D-16)
Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-18)
Delegate Ben Kramer (D-19)
Delegate Craig Rice (D-15)
Delegate Luiz Simmons (D-17)
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18)