O'Malley and Ehrlich square off again at noon
It's been a favorite line from former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., who uses it to remind voters of a 2007 package of tax hikes the governor passed during a 2007 special session that raised roughly $1 billion new new revenues. Ehrlich frequently says a second O'Malley administration will mean another major increase.
The claim has thus far gone undisputed by the O'Malley camp, which would prefer to focus the conversation on the governor's eight trips to the Board of Public Works to cut budgets mid-year.
But a review of Maryland tax history shows that, at least by some measures, there was a tax increase even larger than the one O'Malley passed. One must travel back to 1967 when the state instituted a graduated income tax. Ironically enough, the man responsible for it was Republican Gov. Spiro Agnew.
To be clear here we are not quibbling with Ehrlich's characterization O'Malley's increase on its face value. O'Malley's package raised $1 billion in today's dollars and Agnew's change raised $120 million in 1967. Even when Agnew's figures are inflation adjusted (according to this Internet calculator) they still don't top O'Malley's figure.
But when comparing tax increases historically, the state's economists look at the impact on a per capita basis: Agnew's increases came in at $203 per person in today's dollars. O'Malley's are $179 per person, according to the Department of Legislative Services.
Tax increases are also measured as a percentage of the state's revenues. The 1967 tax increase jacked up state general fund revenues by 26 percent, accord the DLS. The 2007 increases added a 5.8 percent increase to state revenues, says DLS.
According to the tax scales, which were helpfully reprinted in The Baltimore Sun at the time, those making more than a whopping $6K a year got stuck on the high end and had to fork over 6 percent to the state. Agnew, in a April 16, 1967 Sun story hailed tax changes to the tax code "enlightened" and "progressive."
So called "tax dissidents" sued the state, the law was appealed to the highest court, and found constitutional. A rally in Annapolis billed to draw tens of thousands of angry taxpayers only netted about 50.