Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather R. Mizeur is proposing an income tax cut for about 90 percent of the state's taxpayers — to be financed by imposing a higher rate on wealthy Marylanders.
At a news conference Wednesday in Annapolis, Mizeur also rolled out an economic plan that calls for a minimum "living wage" that would reach $16.70 by 2022.
Mizeur, a two-term delegate from Montgomery County, released the most comprehensive income tax plan announced so far by any of the Democratic or Republican gubernatorial candidates. Her plan came complete with new tax tables showing cuts in the tax rate for income between $3,000 and $100,000 for individuals and $3,000 and $150,000 for joint filers.
"It's counterintuitive that a liberal Democrat is cutting taxes, right?" Mizeur said. "This is how we create a robust economy that works for middle-class families."
Mizeur said people earning up to $500,000 would see cuts in what they pay. For example, the tax on a single filer's income of $3,000 to $50,000 would go from 4.75 percent to a proposed 4.6 percent rate.
Only taxpayers earning more than $500,000 a year would pay more, she said.
Mizeur's plan would set the highest rate at 6.5 percent, compared with 5.75 percent now. Combined with a maximum 3.2 percent county piggyback tax, that would give some affluent Marylanders an effective rate of 9.7 percent — one of the highest in the nation.
In her 10-point economic plan, Mizeur proposed stepping up collections of taxes from large multistate companies while providing tax relief for small businesses. She said that by switching to a tax policy that primarily affects such companies as national retail chains, the state could collect an added $197 million in revenue that could be used for rebates to smaller local firms.
While Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, both Democrats, have called for an increase in the state's minimum wage, Mizeur called for Maryland to require a so-called "living wage." In addition to raising the minimum to $16.70 over eight years, she said the state should also increase the base wage for employees who receive tips from $3.63 to $11.69 by 2022.
Ellen Valentino, Maryland director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said she hasn't heard any proposals for a minimum wage increase of that magnitude before.
"Even many who may favor an increased minimum wage would see the deterrent factor to small-business growth and development," she said.
With her plan, Mizeur becomes the fifth of the six announced major candidates to promise tax cuts if elected in 2014. All three Republicans have called for a variety of tax and fee rollbacks, while Gansler has proposed cutting the corporate income tax.
Only Brown has declined to promise cuts in specific taxes. He has said he sees no need to increase the levies.