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Maryland lawmakers to consider tax on digital ads to pay for education

Maryland lawmakers will consider whether to create a tax on digital advertising to raise money for public education.
Maryland lawmakers will consider whether to create a tax on digital advertising to raise money for public education.(Paul W. Gillespie)

Maryland lawmakers will consider adding a tax on digital advertising to raise money to pay for extensive and expensive education reforms.

The tax, as proposed, would apply to businesses that make money from digital advertising. The rate would range from 2.5% to 10%, based on the total amount of digital advertising revenue.

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There’s no estimate yet of how much money that tax would generate.

The bill is one of the first to be introduced in the state Senate and is sponsored by Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller, with Senate President Bill Ferguson as a co-sponsor. Miller, a Calvert County Democrat, described the legislation as a “massive bill” that Ferguson asked him to sponsor.

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“This is going to be an important initiative for the budget committee to look through to see if it makes sense to tie to the revenues for our investments in a 21st-century education,” said Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat.

State lawmakers are expected to look for ways to come up with billions of additional dollars needed for public schools to implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, which studied how to improve public education in the state.

Its recommendations include raising teachers’ salaries, offering prekindergarten to more students, improving career and college preparation programs, and additional supports for schools with high concentrations of students from poor families. The programs would be phased in over 10 years, and at that point would cost $4 billion extra per year — $2.8 billion from the state and $1.2 billion from local governments.

Ferguson and House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, have pledged to support the Kirwan recommendations without a broad-based increase to the state’s sales, property or income taxes.

The bill is not yet scheduled for a public hearing and there is no House version.

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