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Afternoon Read: Politicians, Newspapers Weigh in on MD Budget

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Afternoon Read: Weighing in on MD Budget

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Gov. Martin O'Malley

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A day after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced his bold budget proposal, questions surrounding the plan have only intensified as citizens and politicians wonder whether it’s a “fair” budget and, ultimately, whether it will get passed through the legislature.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said Thursday that capping the income levels at which taxpayers can make full use of income tax exemptions and reductions will be the most difficult part of the budget to get through the General Assembly, The Baltimore Sun reported.

According to The Sun, Miller told reporters after the morning Senate session that this provision is controversial because it would affect many middle class families, not just rich families.

O’Malley is proposing for individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples earning more than $150,000 to be limited to smaller personal tax exemptions for themselves and their family members and to face caps on personal deductions.

"It's definitely middlle class, especially if it's combined income," Miller said.

"What we need to do is have a fair system of taxation," he said. "We don't want to overtax anyone but at the same time we have to stay No. 1 in education."

The Frederick News Post editorial board weighed in on the budget today, analyzing the governor’s decision to shift half of teacher pension costs from the state level to the county level.

The editorial said such cost-sharing was inevitable but the impacts of this shift is the real issue:

If counties are forced to come up with what, in some cases, would be tens of millions of additional dollars, would they raise property taxes? Reduce education spending? If they chose the latter, would they achieve it by revamping their teacher salary schedule; reducing their teacher workforce; increasing class size? Will Maryland's teacher pension program get a haircut? Will the state's standing "maintenance of effort" rule -- which says school funding per pupil should not be lower than the previous year's -- survive?

The Baltimore Sun editorial board wrote that while O’Malley’s controversial budget is “politically unpalatable” he reached for the “hard-to-do ideas” which will ultimately lead to ongoing sustainability for Maryland.

The governor's proposed budget isn't perfect — it's hard to imagine how it could be under the circumstances — but it does two important things. It moves the state significantly closer to an ongoing sustainability, and it does so in a way that, on the whole, avoids balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.

*At 72, Rep. Frank Wolf shows no signs of slowing down. The Virginia Republican officially announced today that he would run for a 17th term.

The veteran politician will face off against Gen. John Douglass—a race that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named an “Emerging Race.”

The Washington Post said while Douglass, a retired Air Force general, has a well-regarded resume among Democrats, “the odds seem stacked against him.”

The Post writes:

“Even though President Obama won the Loudoun-based 10th district in 2008, Wolf has dispatched well-funded challengers by comfortable double-digit margins in recent cycles."

*Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Thursday afternoon that he would not support lifting a mining ban this session and will instead further study whether uranium should be mined in Southside Virginia, The Washington Post reports.

Tests have shown that about 119 million pounds of uranium, equal to $10 billion, are located in Coles Hill, Va.

*Virginia Delegate David Englin introduced a bill that calls for a study to determine whether Virginia’s ABC stores should start selling pot, the Sun Gazette reported early this morning.

Although chances of passage are slim, if it does go through, the measure would call for a subcommittee to study the economics of legalizing marijuana in Virginia and selling it through the state’s ABC stores, the Gazette reported.

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