Md. Senate Panel Approves Tobacco & Cigar Tax Hike; Considering Expansion Of Sales Tax

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– Get ready for some new taxes. Lawmakers are hard at work on the budget needed to raise or cut more than $1 billion.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains what they’ve done so far.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has approved a tax increase on smokeless tobacco and cigars that was included in the governor’s budget proposal, and they’re just getting started.

The tax increase on tobacco products is considered by many as a matter of dollars and good sense.

“It’s going to save kids from cigar smoke and smokeless tobacco, and bring in between $20 and $30 million that could help fund healthcare and public health needs,” Vinny DeMarco, Healthcare For All.

Other proposals may not garner such public approval.

Getting down to brass tax, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is considering cuts and tax increases that are likely to affect all Marylanders in one way or another, with one budget full of cuts and one loaded with increases.

“Taxpayers should be totally confused,” Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick County, said. “Frequently, when you’re dealing with budgets, you’re dealing with double negatives and all that stuff. Everything they told you in English that you shouldn’t observe, it happens here.”

Taxpayers are also being more proactive with the possibility of losing tax deductions and the expansion of the sales tax to cover services still on the table.

“I think overall it would really decrease business because people are so price-sensitive that people would think second nature about going into our business or any other business if there’s a tax on that now,” Tony Maria Ayers, a business owner, said.

“Being in business and as an individual consumer, you start to see the effects of that immediately on your family,” business owner Marty Dustin said.

And the process is just beginning.

The committee has also approved a phasing-in of the transfer of the percentage of teacher pension costs to local governments.

Once the budget passes the Senate, it goes to the House of Delegates and the differences have to be worked out before the end of the session on April 19.

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