Recap: Legislative Affairs and Economic Development - Tax Reform in MD and the General Assembly 2016 Legislative Session Recap

Posted Date: 
April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016 | Joint Legislative Affairs and Economic Development Member Exchange Meeting Recap  

Guest Speaker: Senator Brian Feldman (D15) and Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D15)

Topic: Tax Reform in Maryland and the General Assembly 2016 Legislative Session Recap

The Vice-Chair of the Legislative Affairs Meeting, Leslie Weber, welcomed MCCC members and introduced Senator Feldman and Delegate Dumais. Both have finished the session and jumped back into their other jobs as lawyer/CPA and lawyer respectively.

Senator Feldman began by “racing through” a list of big picture items.  He is the Senate representative to the Maryland Economic Development Commission and is glad to see Maryland more focused than ever business competitiveness.  He noted that Maryland is one of only 10 states with Triple A bond rating. Among other attributes, Maryland this year did not create any new taxes, maintains the best schools and has 4.7% unemployment. 

The central issue going forward is adjusting to a “post-sequestration” America. For Maryland, that means diversifying the private sector portfolio. This relates to the debate on taxes because the local personal income tax (the ‘piggyback’ tax) makes Maryland less competitive.  This is especially true for businesses that are not corporations and are taxed as pass through entities. The Senate and the House have different approaches to these issues. There was an attempt to tie tax reform to passage of Earned Sick and Safe Leave. In the end, neither passed this session and the Montgomery County Delegation will need to take a formal vote on the position of pre-emption when the issue comes up again. Senator Feldman also gave updates on various other initiatives that were in play this session.

Delegate Dumais remarked that she and Senator Feldman have been long time advocates of a commission to study the tax structure. She still believes there is a need for a broad look at tax reform. The House members tend to focus on relief for tax payers making less than $150,000/year.

As the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Delegate Dumais was able to provide a good review of the Justice Reinvestment Act which is the most significant justice reform package in decades.

Many of the questions from attendees revolved around the relationship between the Montgomery County Delegation and the County Council in particular.  Many issues at the state level can be significantly undercut back in the county. We are at a critical point. If we do not grow the tax base, we will not have the revenue to fund many of the progressive programs.  It remains to be seen what kind of agenda will be pushed by the Administration.

For upcoming MCCC Member Exchange Meetings, click here.

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