Staff tells legislators to keep current lid on state debt

The legislature’s fiscal staff told lawmakers Thursday that they should not follow an O’Malley administration proposal to increase Maryland’s authorized debt by $375 million over the next five years.

The staff said this is one way to reduce debt service — payments of principal and interest on the state’s bonds — that will grow by 24% in those five years. It would be the largest increase in any budget category.

Retiring Howard delegates endorse successor as part of big turnover

Democratic Dels. Liz Bobo, Steve DeBoy and Jimmy Malone have disagreed on many of the big issues in their decades at the State House: taxes, gambling, gun control, same-sex marriage, the death penalty.

The three veteran delegates are giving up their seats representing the oddly shaped District 12 that stretches from West Columbia to Arbutus, but Monday they came together to endorse a candidate to replace them: Terri Hill, a Columbia plastic surgeon who grew up in its most liberal precincts.

Rain on road

Legislature likely to change ‘rain tax,’ say some Democratic lawmakers

The “rain tax,” as opponents have dubbed the stormwater runoff fees set to kick in July 1, is likely to be modified, key legislative leaders told a business group Thursday. The fees could amount to hundreds of dollars for residents of some counties and thousands more for businesses and even churches. “As you see this thing played out, the legislature will do something,” Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Sen. Ed Kasemeyer

Md. corporate tax will be cut, Senate chairman predicts

Maryland’s 8.25% corporate income tax will be lowered next year, at least by the Maryland Senate, predicted Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. “I do believe that next year you’ll see it occur,” Kasemeyer told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday. The Howard County Democrat had backed lowering the rate at a meeting of the same group in 2011.

Senate budgeters cut pension contribution by $100 million

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted Thursday to cut $100 million in contributions to the State Retirement and Pension System for fiscal 2014. The committee tied the unexpected move to passage of legislation that will eventually ensure the state puts aside enough money for employee and teachers pensions. But the cut also adds a year to achieving long-term funding goals for those pensions.

Analysis: Tax-weary Assembly leery of gas tax hike

A tax-weary legislature has no stomach to raise needed transportation revenues. Everybody agrees that a good transportation network of roads, highways, bridges and mass transit are an essential underpinning of the Maryland economy. But there’s no agreement on how to pay for this transportation system in the 21st century.