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News Maryland Politics

Brown questions Gansler's 'puzzling priorities' in mailer

Democrat Anthony G. Brown's campaign for governor distributes a mailer to voters questioning opponent Douglas F. Gansler's "puzzling priorities."

What the mailer says:

It juxtaposes two issues that have surfaced in the June 24 Democratic primary. "Why does Doug Gansler want a $1.6 billion tax giveaway for corporations when he says we can't afford universal full day Pre-K?" the mailer says.

The flier contains the words "reckless and irresponsible" in large block lettering and says Gansler, the state attorney general, "doesn't share our values" about full-day pre-kindergarten.

The facts:

Brown, the lieutenant governor, says he would fund full-day pre-kindergarten for all children. Gansler says he, too, favors full-day pre-K but that it should be phased in, beginning with the neediest families.

The state already provides half-day preschool to about 29,000 students from low-income families. The cost of providing quality pre-kindergarten to every child in Maryland would be more than $120 million a year, according to legislative analysts.

Brown says the state can pay for that from increased casino money or other revenues. Gansler has said the state realistically would "have to cut other things" to come up with the money to pay for universal pre-K.

The candidates also differ on corporate income taxes. Gansler proposes gradually shrinking the corporate rate from 8.25 percent to 6 percent, which he says would attract businesses to Maryland. Brown strongly disagrees.

Gansler would begin with a 0.25 percent cut in the first year. He says the cost of that reduction would be offset by closing a tax avoidance loophole — a contention Brown disputes. Gansler said he wouldn't proceed with the remaining years' cuts in the corporate rate unless the reduction were helping expand the business community.

It would take nine years to completely phase in the cut, Gansler says. His campaign estimates the cost to the state treasury in the first year at $35.6 million.

Using the $35.6 million figure, Brown's campaign said it added up the cumulative impact of the rate cut over the nine years, arriving at $1.6 billion.

Analysis:

There are genuine differences between the positions of Gansler and Brown on pre-K and whether to cut the corporate income tax.

There is also disagreement over the $1.6 billion figure, which is the sum of nine years of predicted cuts. It does not include the millions of dollars Gansler says would be saved by closing the loophole or additional money he says the state could realize from expanding its business tax base.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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