Mizeur backs $16.70 living wage, millionaire’s tax; all the gov candidates say they’re environmentalists; Franchot gives O’Malley his coin

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Del. Heather Mizeur at podium announces her economic plan in Lawyer's Mall.

Del. Heather Mizeur announces her economic plan in Lawyer’s Mall.

Del. Heather Mizeur, a Takoma Park Democrat running for governor, rolled out a 10-point economic plan Wednesday that includes a minimum “living” wage that would rise to $16.70 an hour by 2022 and restoration of the millionaire’s tax to provide income tax breaks for the middle class.

Speaking at Lawyer’s Mall near the State House, Mizeur also advocated a corporate tax method known as combined reporting that she said will raise $197 million from corporations not paying any Maryland taxes through this “loophole.” She would use the money to provide property tax rebates for small businesses, she said.

Mizeur also promised to increase funding for workforce training.

“We don’t have jobs problem, we have a workforce problems,” with jobs in health care and manufacturing going begging because of a “skills gap,” she said.

Mizeur is the most progressive or left-leaning of the candidates in the field. Some of her key proposals are favorites of the most liberal members of the General Assembly who have been unable to get them passed, such as paid sick leave for all workers. Most of the proposals, including the living wage, the millionaire’s tax and paid sick leave, are opposed by groups representing businesses both large and small.

But Mizeur also promised to create “a business friendly regulatory environment” and cut “red tape” to restore Maryland’s economic reputation.

They’re all environmentalists

At the Annapolis Westin Hotel Tuesday, a coalition of environmental groups Tuesday held a forum for all the announced candidates for governor.

Mizeur told them about her 38-acre farm in Chestertown where she planted red clover that has increased the insects but also the bat population that feeds on them. Her pro-environment stance is both personal and political. She also opposes fracking process to extract natural gas from shale, and supports wind energy generation.

Mizeur said, “If you’re making the choice based on who would be best for the environment, you really only have one choice.”

Not according to Attorney General Doug Gansler who called himself “the one true environmentalist in this race for governor,” pointing to his record of enforcement.

Comptroller's commemorative coin

Comptroller’s commemorative coin

To hear them speak, the candidates are all environmentalists, including the three Republicans. Harford County Executive David Craig lives 1,000 feet from the mouth of the Susquehanna River in Havre de Grace and has preserved 8,000 acres of farmland. Charles Lollar lives on a nine-acre rural property in Charles County. Del. Ron George has solar panels on his home, and spent many a weekend in his youth with his eight siblings on a boat in the Chesapeake Bay.

All three Republicans failed to mention that they have all promised to repeal “the rain tax,” the state mandated stormwater run-off fees imposed by the counties to help clean up pollution.

Their omission of their stance was understandable. Before they spoke, Will Baker, longtime president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation which was one of the sponsors of the event, had criticized the “cynics” who call it a rain tax, saying “they don’t care about the facts.” Baker said reducing runoff was essential since it is “the one source of pollution that is continuing to increase.”

Coin of the comptroller

The unusual comity between Gov. Martin O’Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot was at a high pitch Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Public Works.

The board had just had just approved the proposed plan for a public-private partnership (P3) to build the $2 billion Purple Line from Bethesda to New Carrollton — creating another mass transit connection for the D.C. suburbs.

Comptroller coin backFranchot, a Takoma Park Democrat who had long served as chairman of the transportation appropriations subcommittee in the House of Delegates, thought it was a great idea, and gave O’Malley full credit. He awarded him one of his specially minted commemorative coins to honor the occasion — in marked contrast to their sometimes testy disagreements.

O’Malley seemed genuinely pleased and then began to scrutinize the design of the coin. “Is this your dog?” he asked Franchot. What about the eagle? And what are those things that look like papal keys on the Maryland shield? the governor wondered.

O’Malley tried to dredge up his Gonzaga High School Latin to read the motto on the bottom of the face of the coin. “Crescite et mutiplicamini,” he joked had something to do with raising revenues.

(Actually, the word “multiplicamini” is misspelled on the coin, and several online dictionaries describe the phrase as “Maryland’s motto.” It means “Increase and multiply” and comes from the Latin Vulgate Bible translation of Genesis 1:28, what God said to the man and woman after he created them.)

The important thing, the comptroller said, is that “it has my name on the back.” Franchot said the coins were not produced at taxpayer expense. The authority line shows Franchot’s campaign committee paid for the minting.

–Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com