Miller stressed that an across-the-board income tax increase would "leave in place" all of the larger exemptions and deductions that the General Assembly allowed in 2007.

"If we raised the rate a little bit, in [all tax brackets] they would still be paying less income tax than they were in 1997," Miller said.

The idea is one that several senators have mentioned privately in recent weeks and that is being pushed by Sen. Roger Manno, a Montgomery County Democrat. Manno's plan is being sold as "a rollback" of the income tax cuts made under Gov. Parris N. Glendening in 1997.

The Manno plan would cost the average Maryland family — a family of four making between $50,000 and $100,000 — $44 a year, according to a top Democrat familiar with the proposal.

The House version of the bill, offered by Del. Anne Healey, a Democrat fromPrince George's County, also would raise the ceiling on how much counties can levy in "piggyback" income taxes, allowing them to impose a rate as high as 3.325 percent. Currently, the state-mandated cap is 3.2 percent.

Baltimore City is one of the four jurisdictions that now tax at the highest rate. Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties are the others.

Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

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