Read his lips: This Republican favors higher taxes


Donald E. Hood wants to raise your taxes.

A Severna Park resident for 29 years, the retired civil engineer considers himself a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who abhors taxes as much as the next guy.

But make no bones about it: Hood wants to raise taxes, particularly if it helps his native Baltimore. He was one of three Anne Arundel County residents who helped draft Gov. William Donald Schaefer's tax restructuring plan, which would raise $800 million in new taxes for education, roads and state aid to Baltimore City and the poorer counties.

"By my nature, I'm human: I don't like tax increases," said Hood, 67, who said he voted for the property tax cap that appeared on the county ballot last fall. "I thin property tax assessments are unrealistic.

Since the governor's 17-member commission on tax restructuring -- led by Montgomery County attorney Robert R. Linowes - released its recommendations in November, Hood has attempted to explain why the tax increases are necessary. Hitting the lecture circuit, he's spoken to anyone and everyone who would listen.

The Linowes package would levy higher income taxes for the wealthy and corporations, expand the sales tax to include services such as haircuts and car repairs and place a 2 percent tax on the value of cars and boats.

"It is a tax increase pure and simple." Said Hood during an interview at his Chartwell home last week. "I voted 'aye' because of the aid for Baltimore City."

The administration has estimated the city would receive $150 million in state aid. By contrast, a legislative fiscal analyst has projected Anne Arundel County would get about $29 million but pay $84 million in additional taxes.

"The health of this state depends on the health of the city," Hood said. "That's hard to get across in a state in such a 'no-tax' mood."

Sentiment against the new taxes appears as prevalent among the varied civic associations Hood has addressed as it does among the state lawmakers he has lobbied. Only last week, legislative leaders told Schaefer the Linowes package won't pass this year.

Of course, Hood is no stranger to tax controversies. He has served on four gubernatorial commissions in three decades that have attempted to adjust reorganize and overhaul the way the state collects from its residents to pay for government services.

He sat on the 1964 Cooper--Hughes Commission, which proposed the first progressive income tax for Maryland. In 1968, Hood served on another panel that reviewed corporate taxes. A year later, Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed him to a commission reviewing the sales tax.

By 1970, officials were once again ready to tinker with the whole gamut of taxes dealt with by Cooper-Hughes. And, again, Mandel appointed Hood to an 18-member study panel.

At the first meeting, Dr. Mills (Phillip Mills, who chaired the commission) in essence told us what the conclusions would be," Hood said. "And, sure enough, a year later, those were the recommendations. That's why I wrote a minority report. I couldn't abide that."

After Hood's objections became front-page news, "Nothing ever came of it (The Mills commission report). It was just down the tubes."

Two other county residents - Doris M. Wright, formerly president of Maryland Classified Employees Association, and Thomas R. McNutt, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union - sat on the Linowes panel.

"Like most everybody else, I had an agenda when I Joined that commission," Hood said. "Even today with all its problems, the city is the manufacturing, shipping, banking and cultural hub of the state. I wanted to see if there wasn't something that could be done to get increased aid to Baltimore."

With, its large concentration of poor residents, Baltimore today contrasts sharply with the pros-perous city in which Hood grew up. During those years, the city contributed more to the state tax coffers than it received, he said.

"I'm loyal to Baltimore," said Hood, who graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Senior High School before studying engineering at the University of Virginia. "I think I got as fine an education in the public schools there as available anywhere else.

"An Immediate, out-of-hand rejection of aid to Baltimore City is kind of like being an ingrate."

Hood, who moved to Severna Park because his two sons enjoyed boating, said he opposed the levy on boats and cars and other portions of the Linowes package.

"The automobile is catching hell here," he said, referring to the tax on cars as well as the proposed sales tax on automotive repairs. "It's just being hit between the eyeballs, (Linowes) is denying the fact that the automobile is a necessity in today's society."

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