SOLUTIONS FOR SHORT TERM TAX BENEFIT: New federal tax laws will benefit most Marylanders in the short term and especially help those with children, but are likely to reduce charitable contributions, a comprehensive analysis released Thursday by the state comptroller predicted. Without changes in state law, Maryland taxpayers will pay upward of $572 million more in state and local taxes in the 2019 fiscal year, while their combined federal tax burden would decrease by $2.8 billion, state officials said. CNS’s Alex Mann writes in MarylandReporter.
- The state’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates found that while 7% of Marylanders will pay less federal tax for 2018 – an average savings of $1,741 a taxpayer – many residents would end up paying significantly more state tax than they currently do, were the General Assembly not to act to change the tax laws, William Zorzi reports for Maryland Matters.
- Hogan on Thursday announced legislation that would allow taxpayers to continue claiming deductions on their state returns, even if they no longer itemize deductions on their federal returns, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports. Under state law, only residents who itemize deductions on their federal returns can itemize deductions on their state returns.
- Franchot’s report will play a crucial role as the Republican governor works with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to attempt to insulate Maryland residents from a huge, inadvertent state tax hike. General Assembly Democrats proposed their own set of solutions last week, writes Scott Dance for the Sun.
- The effect of the tax cut is projected to increase net disposable income in Maryland by $3.2 billion in tax year 2019. That figure levels out in the following four years to an average of about $2.7 billion. State officials said they hope the money will find its way into the local economy, increasing flagging sales tax revenue and bolstering contributions to the education trust fund through increased gambling at casinos, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail writes that although it appears the state’s anticipated windfall of approximately $438 million this year will be less than earlier estimates, Gov. Larry Hogan immediately restated his plan to return that money to taxpayers.
- Here’s Rachel Baye’s story for WYPR-FM.
BAY CLEANUP THREATENED:The Chesapeake cleanup effort is facing major headwinds that threaten the region’s longstanding goal to implement by 2025 all of the actions needed to restore the Bay’s health. Draft figures presented to state and federal officials in December show that the combined impact of growth, climate change and the filling of the Conowingo Dam reservoir offset much of the nitrogen reduction efforts undertaken since 2010, when the most recent Bay pollution control plan was put into place, the Bay Journal’s Karl Blankenship writes in MarylandReporter.
A NICE BRIDGE FOR MIDDLETON: State lawmakers appear poised to name a new bridge in honor of a long-serving member of the Southern Maryland delegation, partly to honor the legislator for keeping the project on the front burner and partly as payback for a snub from a top aide to Gov. Larry Hogan, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. The bill would name the replacement for the current Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge the Nice/Middleton Bridge, in honor of Sen. Mac Middleton (D), who has represented Charles County in the Senate since 1995.
NO BID CONTRACTS: Doug Donovan and Liz Bowie of the Sun are reporting that from the moment Dallas Dance launched his digital overhaul of Baltimore County public schools in 2012, the former superintendent recommended hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to education technology firms from across the nation. Many of the purchases were made without competitive bidding. The no-bid contracts and consulting jobs that Dance and interim Superintendent Verletta White held are expected to draw questions from Baltimore County’s state senators today when they meet with White to discuss the district’s ongoing audit of technology purchases.
- Gov. Larry Hogan expressed concern Thursday about the indictment of former Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance, whom he believes “was apparently taking bribes.” But Dance was not charged with taking bribes. He was indicted on four counts of perjury, Liz Bowie and Scott Dance report for the Sun.
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STATE CENTER REPORT: WHAT ABOUT THE WORKERS? The editorial board for the Sun opines that there’s a curious omission in the 103-page report on possible redevelopment of the State Center complex in Baltimore that Gov. Larry Hogan released this week — any mention whatsoever of the 3,000-plus state employees who work there and what might become of them.
DELEGATE’s MISCONDUCT: A state lawmaker from Baltimore “breached the standard of conduct” of the Maryland General Assembly last year during an expletive-filled interaction with a female criminal justice advocate, according to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that Nicole Hanson, executive director of Out For Justice, alleged in a complaint that Del. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) threw a chair and “physically and psychologically” intimidated her, claims that McCray has denied.
Q&A WITH HOGAN: Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News-Post sits down for a Q&A with Gov. Hogan, writing that Hogan has made himself at home in the top-floor office, adorning the walls with items including a replica of President George Washington’s speech resigning as commander in chief of the Continental Army, Christmas photos with the Obamas and Trumps, framed snapshots with the pope and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and a signed guitar from country singer Tim McGraw, whose hit “Live Like You Were Dying” became the governor’s theme song when he had cancer early in his term.
1st RESPONDERS DEAL WITH FENTANYL DANGERS: Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes about the opioid crisis and how it is affecting first responders who may come into contact with the dangerous drug fentanyl, which can be absorbed through the skin and prompt an overdose. Maryland’s emergency services personnel are taking extra precautions.
RUN FOR DELEGATE: Julian Haffner of Gaithersburg, the current treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, has decided to drop his bid for an at-large seat on the County Council and run instead for a newly open delegate seat in Gaithersburg/Rockville-based District 17, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.
MO CO’s LATINO LIFELINE: Lilian Mass has spent the last 14 months as a bilingual communications officer for Montgomery County, a period that coincides with Trump’s election and his administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Her job is to be a lifeline between local government agencies and Montgomery’s growing Latino population — often the first point of contact between officials and newly arrived residents who know little about American civic life, Rachel Siegel of the Post reports.