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As we pass the halfway mark of the 2014 session, my top priority continues to be reducing the heavy tax burden placed on Marylanders by the O'Malley/Brown administration.

Over the past seven years there have been over 80 increases in taxes, fees and tolls. This has served to make Maryland one of the most expensive places in America to live, work, raise a family and retire. Over the past seven years we have been subjected to increases in the gas tax and car titling fees, death taxes, higher bridge tolls and the now infamous tax on rain. I'm proud to say I have voted against every tax hike that's come before me in my short time in the House.

Marylanders can do the math. Many are now Maryland refugees. According to IRS data, our state has lost more than $7 billion (yes, that's with a "b") in adjusted gross income, meaning that dollars that could have been invested in our community, businesses and local economy just left our state. It is a misguided assumption that only the wealthy are fleeing Maryland's oppressive tax climate. Those relocating have an average income of just over $50,000 -- hardly big corporate executives.

The war against working people in Maryland must stop. That is why my single most important priority this session is to support tax relief for all Marylanders, as well as transparent and open government so we can see where our money goes. One of many of the initiatives I am proud to co-sponsor is Del. Andrew Serafini's bill (HB326: The Income Tax Relief Act of 2014) to reduce personal income tax rates by 10 percent over the next three years. This is a strong first step as it will provide relief to all of Maryland's taxpayers and won't favor one group over another. I also co-sponsored HB50, a complete repeal of the rain tax.

In addition, I've supported legislation to provide live streaming of House floor sessions and committee voting sessions so the public can see what's happening. My Republican colleagues and I are committed to championing better solutions for a better Maryland.

One of the most important things elected officials should do is listen. As we enter the second half of the 2014 session, I want to hear any questions, concerns and ideas that you have. Please contact me any time.

Justin Ready

Westminster

The writer is a Republican Delegate representing District 5A.

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