Ehrlich promises tax break to vets
Ehrlich, a Republican, made the same promise to veterans while governor, but was unable to fulfill it. “This is about unfinished business,” he told reporters.
In 2006 Ehrlich signed into law a measure that allows the state's 47,000 veterans to exempt $5,000 of their pension income from state taxes, and today at a VFW hall in Howard County, blamed the General Assembly for not enacting a broader exemption.
"I promised you," he said. "Mike Busch promised you. Mike Miller promised you."
Ehrlich, who wants to reclaim his old job from O’Malley, cast the initiative as an economic stimulus program, saying it would draw more veterans and their spending power to the state.
O’Malley’s campaign was ready to respond, putting forward Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a Colonel in the army reserves, for a press avail outside the campaign's Canton headquarters. He called the initiative, which has been introduced in Annapolis four times, “something that ought to be looked at.”
Brown also said the plan is another example of Ehrlich of making “budget busting promises.” Ehrlich has also promised to give an additional $60 million to local governments to pay for road maintenance and would reduce the state sales tax by a penny, which would cost the government about $600 million. He has not said how he would pay for those proposals.
Whomever wins the election will already need to close a $1.6 billion gap between government spending and revenues. Ehrlich estimates his the veterans’ tax relief idea would cost $37 million over five years – an amount he said is so small it is equivalent to “a rounding error.”
It was unclear where he got those figures, a similar bill introduced in 2008 would have cost the state about $40 million a year, an amount that is more than twice the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Other, similar bills have been introduced in 2009 and 2007. All have died in committee.
When asked how Ehrlich would be able to convince the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to move forward on the proposal that they’ve rebuffed in past years, he said there would “pressure” on them and suggested that some recalcitrant Democrats could lose their jobs in November.