Tax debate spawns a new business group


With legislative committees already embarked on a summertime study of the state's tax system, four statewide business groups announced yesterday that they have formed a council to ensure that their voices are heard before a tax reform bill is written and presented to the General Assembly next year.

The Business Fiscal Policy Council, which is chaired by former U.S. Sen. J. Glenn Beall and includes two members each from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Baltimore Committee, Maryland Economic Growth Associates and the Greater Washington Board of Trade, will "help state legislators take a business-like approach in considering changing tax laws," said Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ronald Creamer. He said the business community's rejection of this year's Linowes Report on state taxes stemmed in part from their inability to help develop the reform proposals.

"Given the importance of tax reform and fiscal management of tax revenue, the business community cannot afford to just react to the next batch of reports to be issued," he added.

"We must be more involved. Through this council, we can take the initiative and help policy-makers come up with solutions that business can endorse."

The group can expect a hearty welcome from legislators, according to Delegate Tyras S. Athey, D-Anne Arundel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "I think that's great," he said of the new business group. At a meeting yesterday, he and the chairmen of the House Appropriations and the Senate Budget and Taxation committees agreed that the business community should be a part of the planning process, Mr. Athey said.

He said that the four legislative "money committees" have started to study the expenditure side of the state's budget equation. "Hopefully by early to mid-September, they will have some sort of an idea what the expenditures will be by the year 2000," he said.

After estimating the state's spending needs, the committees will look at the revenue needs, and public hearings will be held

throughout the state.

Mr. Creamer said the Business Policy Council hopes to take an TC active role in advising the legislators and the governor.

"I think we're a more vital part of the process than attending hearings," he said.

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