YOUR JAN. 26 editorial, "Income tax cut = jobs," attempts to rewrite the long Republican fight for an income tax cut for all Marylanders. Republicans have long believed Maryland is a tax hell, and that the income tax burden severely dampens the economy and kills job growth. We have consistently fought for a 24 percent income tax cut over four years.
The first step is a 6 percent cut to increase the personal exemption from $1,200 to $2,200. A family of four could shield $8,800 of income from state tax, instead of the current $4,800.
The Sun erred in saying House Republicans had changed their position on who should benefit. We have always believed working-class families should be the first to benefit from tax relief. Ellen Sauerbrey announced this identical tax cut plan when she ran for governor in 1994. House Republicans supported it then, and we have fought for it in every legislative session since.
We have also consistently showed how we would pay for this tax cut by recommending budget savings in 1995 and 1996, and have done so for the 1997 budget.
Democrats offer continuously changing proposals, complete with a new political spin. However, no spin doctor can change the fact that a tax cut is not a tax cut if it is offset by new taxes.
Republicans are encouraged that the Democrats have recognized the crucial need to cut taxes. But relying on slot machine money and creating new taxes to pay for it is not the right way to accomplish a tax cut. Raising taxes to lower taxes doesn't make fiscal sense for Maryland.
House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. proposes offsetting his tax cut by hiking taxes on telephones and telecommunications, taxes certain to be passed on to consumers. Mr. Taylor's offset can almost cover the tax cut in the first year, but in later years the deficits grow ever larger. Mr. Taylor wants to lower our income taxes by raising our phone bills.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller proposes paying for his tax cut by legalizing slot machines at race tracks, thus setting the stage for the invasion of big gambling interests and casinos.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening proposes offsetting his 2 percent income tax cut with $98 million in new cigarette tax revenue, an actual $59 million tax increase for the first year.
Unfortunately, like the speaker's proposal, the deficits quickly skyrocket out of control. Since cigarette tax revenues must inevitably decline along with smoking rates, Mr. Glendening chains his tax cut to ever-dwindling revenues. He conveniently dumps into the next governor's lap the problem of finding money to cover his "re-election year tax cut." Sound familiar, Prince George's County?
Some Senate Democrats, including Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., D-Montgomery County, have followed the Republican lead and also propose raising the personal exemption, but have not offered an explanation of how they will pay for it.
The proposals pushed by the Democratic leadership simply rob Taxpayer Peter to pay Taxpayer Paul. Their proposals create black holes in the budget and will require tremendous cash infusions. The inevitable result: Democrats hail casino gambling as Maryland's financial savior.
In contrast, Republicans continue to focus on income tax cuts paid for by reducing the size and cost of government.
The Democrats' plans simply don't cut it.
Robert H. Kittleman
The writer is Republican leader in the state House of Delegates, where he represents Howard and Montgomery counties.
Pub Date: 2/10/97