Ehrlich: No new taxes or fees
The Associated Press is reporting that former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said Wednesday he won't raise taxes, and isn't planning any fee increases, if he gets his old job back. According to AP reporter Brian Witte:
Ehrlich, a Republican who is proposing a 1 percent cut to the state's sale tax, said he's not ready yet to disclose how his budget proposal would address a budget deficit of more than $1 billion in the next fiscal year, but he said he plans to later in the campaign.
“We're not even thinking about fee stuff,” Ehrlich told reporters when questioned whether he is considering raising fees instead of taxes. He answered “no” when a reporter asked a follow-up question about whether fee increases of any sort could be under consideration.
Many Republicans in Maryland have worried that tax increases are coming next year, as the state is expected to face another gap between revenues and expenses -- and annual problem -- and the election will be in the rear-view mirror.
Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has said he doesn't intend to raise taxes, but he has stopped short of making a campaign pledge, according to the AP.
The rest of the AP story on competing tax pledges and reaction:
O'Malley has been quick to point out that Ehrlich raised property taxes and a variety of fees, including vehicle registration fees, when he was governor during much better financial times.
Rick Abbruzzese, O'Malley's campaign spokesman, said Ehrlich “is very good at making empty promises during an election year.”
“Bob Ehrlich has zero credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” Abbruzzese said in response to Ehrlich's comments Wednesday.
Taxes have been a big campaign issue so far.
Ehrlich has criticized O'Malley for raising a variety of taxes during a 2007 special session, including an increase in the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and a jump in the corporate income tax from 7 percent to 8.25 percent.
But O'Malley has fired back that Ehrlich wasn't nearly as disciplined in spending as he says he was, pointing to property tax increases, higher tolls and fees and big increases in college tuition when the Republican was governor.
Ehrlich, however, said the O'Malley administration has celebrated transportation projects and Chesapeake Bay restoration, while criticizing fees Ehrlich raised relating to transportation and bay restoration.
“You can't have it both ways,” Ehrlich said Wednesday after speaking to some small-business owners and families at Kaufman's Tavern in Gambrills. “You can't celebrate the successes of dedicated sources of revenue that have worked and then criticize fees on the back end.”