Miller says increase to alcohol tax is 'nonsense'

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller this morning had sobering words for those advocating a *dime-a-drink* hike on beer, wine and liquor taxes: The proposal is "nonsense," he said.

"It is not going to happen," said Miller, who has instead pushed for a hike in the state's gas tax.

Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Gov. Martin O'Malley participated this morning in an annual legislative issue forum hosted by radio host Marc Steiner.

The conversations were largely dominated by talk of budget cuts.

Busch said that state workers will likely face another year of furloughs. O'Malley again reiterated that he is "open" to tax increases (though he is not proposing any this year). He said he wants any new taxes to be evaluated by how they would affect Maryland's competitiveness with neighboring states.

The forum occurred up hours before the 2011 General Assembly is set to open for the 90 day session. Though the capital is coated in white after a night of snowfall, the weather seems to have had little impact on lobbyists and lawmakers: The halls are abuzz after months of silence.

The House and Senate will both convene at noon to take up largely ceremonial measures.

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