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Analysts Brief Lawmakers On ‘Doomsday’ Budget

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PatWarrenWebPhoto Pat Warren
Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Some eye-opening news out of Annapolis as lawmakers look for ways to balance the budget.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on a doomsday budget that would change the way the state does business.

It is doomsday. The budget is balanced by nearly $800 million in cuts. Local school districts lose $205 million. Other local aid would be slashed by $102.7 million. Higher education loses more than $185 million. Health services, including Medicaid, are reduced by $122 million and state agencies see about $129 million disappear, taking cost of living raises, 500 jobs and some services with it.

“Hopefully we can avoid that and the only way you’re going to avoid that is with revenues, so it’s going to involve cuts, as well as revenues,” said Senate President Mike Miller.

So one hand is on the chopping block and the other is in your pocket. A House bill would expand the state sales tax to services.

“In a couple weeks, I have a hair appointment. My hair is going to be taxed,” said Anna Myers.

Anna Myers joined a hearing room packed with Marylanders protesting the tax on services, with auto service shops leading the charge. Mid-Atlantic AAA speaks for thousands of drivers who can’t afford the cost.

“Not just maintaining their cars but insuring their cars. This is outrageous. That’s the last thing we need right now,” said Lon Anderson, AAA.

Jennifer Wise is worried about her consulting business.

“In the past, I’ve kinda just sat by and let the Maryland Chamber speak for me but this is so critical for me because our business is finally growing again,” she said.

And it’s from the standpoint of what taxpayers can afford that some lawmakers think an all-cuts budget is the way to go.

“I think that’s where the citizens of Maryland want to go. Whether that’s popular with various legislators, we’re going to see,” said Senator E.J. Pipkin.

Several other tax bills are also being considered, including a personal income tax hike.

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