ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)— “Respect, rights, revenue.” It’s the theme of a large rally by public employees at the State House in Annapolis. They are sending a tough message to lawmakers.
Political reporter Pat Warren explains what they want.
State workers are rallying in Lawyers’ Mall to protect their interests as the General Assembly weighs new taxes against deeper cuts.
It may be the most controversial administration agenda in years, with proposals some feel are so taxing, they’re organizing protests.
While Governor O’Malley says Maryland is recovering from the recession, residents in Baltimore last month held a funeral procession for the American dream for those still caught in the foreclosure crisis.
In Annapolis last week, a crowd of realtors and homeowners protested the governor’s plan to cap mortgage interest deductions, and lawmakers are considering an across-the-board state income tax hike.
And while it’s not in the budget, the governor’s proposed sales tax on gasoline is still on the table—drawing fire from consumers around the state.
“At the same time there’s a strong possibility of more cuts. We’ve got an alternative of cuts to higher education, public education, Medicaid. If we can’t find revenues, these cuts are going to go in place,” said Mike Miller, Senate President.
It’s against this backdrop that Governor O’Malley outlined Maryland’s goals and progress to the state’s Democratic leaders in Congress. They too are embroiled in a budget battle that could impact funding to the state.
“So the governor is up against increased need and declining revenue,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski.
And the federal budget is also shrinking.
“So we have to really make tough decisions. We’re all going to have to cut back. At the end of the day, we gotta pay our bills,” said Senator Ben Cardin, D-Maryland.
Or as the saying goes, when you’re in a hole, stop digging.
Senate President Miller has said that without new revenue streams, the state could be looking at jeopardizing as many as 500 positions.
The governor is also proposing a tax on Internet sales.