Reporting Derek Valcourt
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Controversial remarks by the governor on a radio show have some business owners on edge, worried they could see the sales tax go up once again.
Derek Valcourt explains what the governor said and why it’s getting so much attention.
The governor was apparently speaking off the cuff when he suggested a sales tax instead of a gas tax.
At Synchronicity Boutique in Pikesville, planning for prom season is already underway.
“This is the most important season. It’s our Christmas,” Karen Mazer, owner of Synchronicity Boutique, said.
But Mazer is feeling more like the Grinch after hearing the governor in a radio interview say he would prefer a sales tax increase over a gas tax hike.
“Frankly, if I had my druthers, I’d rather do the one penny on the sales tax,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “It gives us flexibility.”
“It’s enough to make me cry, and then some,” Mazer said.
Mazer says a sales tax increase could cripple businesses like hers.
“It can make the difference between someone buying one dress over another, or unfortunately, someone shopping at my store or going online and buying this dress,” she said.
But some key lawmakers say retailers like this one don’t need to worry. They say an increase in the sales tax isn’t going to happen.
“The votes aren’t there, so why he throws out a fantasy or pipe dream when the votes aren’t there I’m not sure, but it’s a mistake for him even to mention it,” Senate President Mike Miller said. “But it’s not going to happen. It’s just going to get people needlessly upset.”
At a news conference Thursday morning, O’Malley blamed the media for the reaction to his sales tax comments.
“I haven’t made that proposal but you all love to jump up and down about these things,” he said.
Mazer points out that under O’Malley, the sales tax has already increased from five to six percent. And now she’s hoping it doesn’t jump to seven.
“The idea of even that percentage more is terrifying,” Mazer said.
An increase in the sales tax one penny on the dollar could raise an additional $600 million a year in revenue for the state.
Marylanders will likely be paying more taxes soon, but many expect to feel the pain at the pump. Some in Annapolis are considering a 15 cent hike in the gas tax over three years.