Since Glendening and GOP nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey first matched up in 1994, lowering taxes has been a point of contention. During the ’94 campaign, Sauerbrey said she wanted to cut the personal income tax by 24 percent.
At the time, Glendening dismissed Sauerbrey’s plans to cut the tax because he said the loss of revenue would do irreparable harm to important programs, such as education.
But in 1997, Glendening and the General Assembly cut the income tax by 10 percent. The cut will be phased in by 2002 – with a 5 percent cut put in place this year, said Assistant State Comptroller Marvin Bond.
Sauerbrey said she wants to do more. She wants to cut personal income taxes another 9 percent.
She also wants to give retirees a tax break, which she believes could help to keep them from moving out of state. She has proposed to more than double the amount of retirement income that would be exempt from taxing – to $33,000 a year a person, from $15,900.
Glendening does not support additional tax cuts now. He has said if the economy remains strong he would not be opposed to more cuts, but not at the cost of education.
Michelle Byrnie, a Glendening spokeswoman, said programs the governor already has in place, such as the Heating Assistance Program, which funnels money to needy seniors for energy and heating bills, does more to help them than Sauerbrey’s tax cut would.
Sauerbrey said the state can afford the income tax cuts because they would be combined with less business regulation, a move she says would lure more companies to Maryland and thus provide more taxable revenue.JOBS
Glendening has been criticized throughout the campaign by Sauerbrey and members of the business community for not doing enough to bring jobs and businesses into the state.
One of Glendening’s more notable critics has been James T. Brady, the governor’s former secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. Glendening appointed Brady to the post in 1995.
Brady resigned this year, citing policy differences with the governor. Last week, Brady endorsed Sauerbrey and will be advising her campaign.
In a recent interview, Brady said Sauerbrey’s business message is consistent with his. “The governor has been all over the line with his business agenda,” he said. “And the state is not everything it should be.”
Brady said Maryland lags behind other states in regulatory reform, tax cuts and work force development.
But state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George’s County Democrat, is quick to point out improvements Glendening has overseen. “Job growth in the state is up and the state is much more attractive to businesses because of the [income] tax cut,” he said.
A report issued this month by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked Maryland 16th in the nation for job growth. Virginia ranked 15th; Pennsylvania 29th; Delaware 11th. “The last time 16 was bottom of the barrel was in 1796, when Tennessee became the 16th state to join the nation,” Glendening said.
Sauerbrey spokeswoman Carol Hirschburg said one report was not enough to show significant job growth. “There are many ways of arriving at these numbers,” she said.
The governor said 1997 was the first time in nine years Maryland’s job growth rate has exceeded the national average. He said 159,000 new jobs have been created in Maryland since he took office.OTHER PROPOSALS
Among the governor’s other proposals are:
* creating a system of training institutes to teach Marylanders skills – in manufacturing, biotechnology and information technology – critical to their region;
* spending more money to market the state through the Department of Business and Economic Development;
* establishing a one-time $50 million fund for business loans; and
* increasing the Sunny Day fund by $6 million.
The Sunny Day fund – officially known as the Economic Development Program – is used to help the state retain or attract businesses and jobs. During his term, Glendening has hiked funds for the program from $4 million to $24 million. The money comes from general taxes.
Sauerbrey opposed the creation of the Sunny Day fund when she was in the legislature in 1988. If elected, she said, she would use the funds selectively for job creation, instead of for job retainment, as she says Glendening has.
Sauerbrey spokeswoman Anne Hubbard said Sauerbrey has her own proposals for improving Maryland’s business environment.
The GOP nominee is proposing a council on economic growth that would bring together experts from the private and public sectors to identify and eliminate obstacles facing businesses. The council would make recommendations to Sauerbrey.
Sauerbrey would market the state as “Maryland’s chief business recruiter” and would establish a reform commission to eliminate “overly zealous, job-killing regulations.” She also would initiate one-stop shopping for licenses.
Glendening spokesman Len Foxwell said the governor has already established an Internet site for businesses to download regulatory licenses and permits. The governor is moving to allow businesses to apply directly through the Internet, he said.
Still, many in the business community say Sauerbrey is a better bet for them. Sauerbrey has received endorsements from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Businesses for Responsive Government Group, the Maryland chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and all five Maryland chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Hirschburg said.
Glendening has received endorsements from the Restaurant Association of Maryland and the Baltimore Licensed Beverage Association, a spokesman said.