Gov. Martin O’Malley challenged a construction executive on Friday to radio debate on increasing taxes on millionaires.
It all started when Whiting-Turner Construction Company Executive Vice President Daniel White spoke up about recent laws and regulations that made Maryland less friendly to business. White had been invited to share the businessman’s perspective on the issue at a symposium O’Malley hosted on job creation.
White touched on a subject near and dear to O’Malley’s heart: the “millionaires’ tax.” Enacted in 2008, this taxed income that was greater than $1 million at a higher rate – 6.25%, as opposed to 5.5%. The tax expired at the end of 2010.
White said that the state’s policymakers should be careful to avoid “regrettable unintended consequences” from new ideas.
“With the millionaire’s tax, we lost thousands of millionaires,” White said.
Later on in the symposium, O’Malley emphatically disagreed. While there were fewer people reporting income over $1 million after the tax – there were roughly 7,000 millionaires in 2007, and nearly 5,000 in 2008 – O’Malley and other proponents argue that fewer people made more than $1 million during the recession.
“The facts I’ve seen, the reports I’ve reviewed, indicates there’s no correlation between the changes we put in place for the progressive income tax and number of millionaires,” O’Malley said.
“I won’t deny that people with a lot of money can afford to live wherever they want. But we had that problem 20 years ago, 40 years ago,” he finished.
White did not join in the discussion at the end of the symposium much – it was mainly O’Malley and his staff reinforcing the governor’s position. O’Malley did challenge White to a half-hour radio debate on the issue. White was noncommittal about whether he’d be willing to argue his position with the governor before a broadcast audience.
Later on Friday afternoon, the governor’s blog had a post by Chief of Staff Matt Gallagher about the symposium. The vast majority of the blog outlines O’Malley’s position on the millionaire’s tax, complete with charts and graphs.