House set to vote on final budget and tax hikes after Senate passage

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin opposes tax hikes in floor debate.

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin opposes tax hikes in floor debate.

By Len Lazarick

As one delegate put it, it was déjà vu all over again as the House of Delegates on Tuesday rejected amendments to a revised spending plan and $300 million in tax hikes that had often been proposed in the regular 90-day session.

In three and half hours of often lackluster debate, seven mostly Republican amendments to the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act went down to defeat. Lawmakers rejected attempts to reduce the shift of teacher pension costs to the school systems or to force the state to use the flush tax exclusively for reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

In the State and Local Revenue and Financing Act, the delegates voted down attempts to reduce or eliminate income tax hikes of 5% to 15% on people making more than $100,000 a year. A couple of Montgomery County delegates sought to substitute an increase in the sales tax from 6% to 7% for the income tax hike, which will have a quarter of Montgomery’s high-earning taxpayers paying 40% of all the new revenues. But the effort fizzled after 10 minutes of discussion without even a recorded vote.

“I know we’re probably not in a mood to do this,” said Del. Charles Barkley, D-Montgomery, who offered the sales tax increase.

Mood to finish quickly and get out of town

The delegates seemed mostly in a mood to finish the work of the special session and get out of Annapolis, as they will likely do after final votes this morning. Following Tuesday’s session, House Speaker Michael Busch pointed out that almost all the issues had been thrashed out in the regular session, which ended without action in the House on the two bills substantially similar to those they debated Tuesday.

Delegates on way to State House run gauntlet of pit bull owners.

Delegates on way to State House run gauntlet of pit bull owners.

Streaming back into the afternoon session, delegates walked through a gauntlet of hundreds of pit bull owners demanding action to overturn a court decision that declared their pet dogs “inherently dangerous.” But legislative leaders were adamant that the session would deal only with the unfinished budget measures, and nothing else.

Senate passes measures

Shortly after noon Tuesday, the Maryland Senate across the hall had passed a final budget and more than $300 million in tax hikes.

The debate lasted only an hour and half, with remarks by each Republican opponent countered by a different Democratic supporter of the measure.

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin dominated the opposition, speaking at least a dozen times with nearly the same message. Despite the “marketing” that the budget was being cut, Pipkin said, overall spending was actually going up $700 million and the tax hikes were unnecessary.

The final vote on the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act was 33-13, with two Democrats — Sen. Roy Dyson of St. Mary’s and Brian Frosh of Montgomery — joining 11 Republicans in voting against the plan, which makes some reductions in spending formulas and shifts half of teacher pension costs to county governments. Republican Sen. George Edwards of Garrett voted for the bill.

The final vote on the State and Local Revenue and Financing Act was 27-19. Seven Democrats joined all dozen Republicans opposing the tax hikes. The seven Democrats were: Dyson; John Astle, Anne Arundel; James Mathias, Lower Shore; Anthony Muse, Prince George’s; and Jim Brochin, Norman Stone and Bobby Zirkin, all of Baltimore County.

A video shot throughout the day on Monday shows the demonstrators opposed to the tax hikes and spending increases, and a rally by public employee unions supporting the bills.

The video was produced by Emaun Kashfipour.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Ali B

    This is ridiculous!  Instead of curbing spending, the legislature just keeps going back to the “wealthy” citizens to shoulder far more than their share of taxes.  How about spending less?  Ever thought of that?  They didn’t even barely consider increasing sales tax which all Maryland citizens would shoulder – which is of course, would be totally alien to our wonderous lawmakers, doing something fair!

    • Dale McNamee

      Ali B,

       There’s been no consequences for these parasites…They get re-elected time and time again, and the catastrophe that is caused by their actions hasn’t hit THEM or the fantasy world of Annapolis, yet…But, it’s coming !

      The moronic & envious voters who voted for more “goodies” from the government will learn a very bitter lesson when the “high earner” labels hit earners in  the $ 3,001- $ 99,999/yr. brackets…

      The ever increasingly ravenous, piggish, government will see to that !  

  2. abby_adams

    Well, Maryland has finally been acknowledged on national cable news as declaring $100,000 “high income earners” ripe for taxing, in contradiction to the rate set by POTUS.  What has been sorely missing in this debate is the CUMULATIVE effect of raising a variety of taxes, fees and tolls on the state level, as well as the impending hit we will be taking at the local level, and likely on the federal level!  I don’t doubt these august legislators want to hightail it out of Annapolis PDQ. They’ll be laying low hoping that ADD voters will swallow this BLOATED state budget and applaud their courageous efforts to forestall  “DOOMSDAY”  and make MD a better place to live. O’Malley’s legacy to the people of MD!

    Kudos to those thinking Dems who bucked their party bosses to actually consider the welfare of ALL of the people of MD, not just those who enjoy protected status under this one party regime.

    • Dale McNamee

      TV news coverage of the Governor & Legislature is abysmal and that’s where most of the Maryland voters get their news !  There’s more in-depth coverage of accidents, murders,etc. as well as the trivial ” happy puppy ” stories, the Preakness, and pro sports…

      If I didn’t read the Maryland Reporter and other news sites, I wouldn’t know what was going on in Annapolis, not from the TV…

      And you’re right on with the ” ADD ” voter statement !

  3. Gome17

    This health care for all group are connected to the same folks. The people of Garrett County will be unhappy with his vote

    • Gome17

      I should mean the people of Garrett County will be unhappy with George Edwards.


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