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Md. Lawmakers Face Decision To Raise Taxes To Balance Budget

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Maryland General Assembly
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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Money woes. Taxpayers may want to get a grip on their wallets as the governor tackles the state’s budget deficit.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on what could be in store.

It’s Maryland’s annual balancing act, trying to make sure the government’s spending stays in line with its income.

Marylanders make it clear how they feel about government taxing and spending.

“If they run the budget like my family does, like my friends do. Cut the expenses,” said one person.

“We can’t afford no more taxes,” said another.

But with a billion dollar structural deficit, can the state afford not to raise revenue? That’s the question the governor faces in this next General Assembly session.

“It was a $2 billion deficit, we cut it in half and we have a billion left over. What we did was we gave the governor two years to get the job done,” Senate President Mike Miller said.

The bar is set for the governor at $550 million next year.

Miller tells WJZ he believes a gas tax for transportation needs is  most likely the only increase that might pass next session. Any other increases he considers unlikely, for now.

“As we move further in this century, we’ll probably wind up applying the sales tax to services, you know accountants engineers, lawyers,” Miller said. “People don’t want to hear that. But it’s what’s going to have to happen because that’s the new economy.”

Warren: “But it’s not going to happen in 2012?”
Miller: “It’s not going to happen on my watch.”

But the committee report on spending affordability leaves the door open.

O’Malley is under no legal obligation to follow the committee’s recommendations.

The 2012 session opens Jan. 11.

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