Despite Maryland legislators pitching alternatives to his state budget, Gov. Martin O’Malley his sticking by his budget, saying that his income tax proposal plan is “pretty sound.”
O’Malley’s budget calls for capping tax deductions and exemptions for residents making more than $100,000. A Senate panel is now looking to instead impose an increase to most residents’ personal income taxes across the board.
During an appearance on Maryland Public Television’s “Ask The Governor,” O’Malley said that his team looked at that as an option and decided that it was not the best way to go.
The Post reports that he said his approach was “fairer” and stressed how long his administration spent on the budget proposal.
No matter the approach, the Maryland legislature is charged with plugging a nearly $1 billion budget hole.
O’Malley’s approach relies heavily on tax increases while other legislatures propose that they instead close the deficit with spending decreases.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has prepared an alternative budget dubbed the Doomsday Budget that proposes $700 million in cuts.
Among those on the chopping board in the budget: state aid to public schools and universities, 500 state jobs and local law enforcement grants.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Doomsday budget proposal is, in part, a device being used by the Senate leadership to force wavering Democrats to consider the implications of a refusal to raise taxes. But if O’Malley’s budget is not passed, this budget would likely be the reality.
Via The Sun:
"There comes a point where you can't responsibly cut any further without undermining the very things that people expect of their state," O'Malley said. He noted that education, public safety and health services account for 84 percent of the state budget.
The Carroll Standard, a Maryland publication that identifies as a fiscal constitutional conservative, said that the Doomsday budget was ‘sane’ and quoted Delegate Justin Ready (R-Carroll) as saying the following:
"It's important to note that a cut of $500-$700 million out of Gov. O'Malley's proposed FY2013 budget would still leave Maryland's state government spending more than in last year's budget. That's not an unreasonable request to make of our government in a time when families have seen their budgets reduced dramatically."
* It’s Super Tuesday, but you probably wouldn’t know that from the activity happening in Virginia today.
With just Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on Virginia’s ballot, a low voter turnout is expected in the state with Romney winning decisively.
Candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum failed to collect the required signatures to get on the ballot.
Romney hasn’t campaigned much leading up the primary in Virginia, but Paul is hoping that with just two competitors on the ballot in the open primary, he can draw in independent voters and have a strong showing in the state.
Some activists hope to use the low turnout today as momentum to try and reform Virginia voting and ballot laws.
* A federal judge struck down a Maryland gun law barring residents from obtaining gun permits unless they submit evidence showing that they face specific threats of violence outside their homes.
The judge ruled that while states are allowed to place certain restrictions on gun permits to improve public safety, Maryland’s law acts as an illegal “rationing system” that tries to simply reduce the number of guns in public without regard to an applicant’s fitness to carry a firearm, according to The Washington Times.
The ruling was hailed as a victory for gun rights advocates.
*If you are parking in D.C. make sure to put money in your meter because the District just broke its record for parking fines collected in a year.
The city issued 1.6 million parking tickets last year generating $92.6 million in revenue, according to a study by AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The District collected an average of $371,000 in parking fines each business day in FY 2011, making it an all time record for D.C.
The area is already set to break this record in Fiscal Year 2012, bringing in an additional $31 million to its total parking tickets fines during the first four months of the year alone.
By comparison, the District collected a total of $80.4 million in revenue in 2010.
“When it comes to the sheer number of parking tickets written each day and the overall amount of parking ticket fines collected, the District of Columbia is the envy of cities large and small around the country,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “It’s hard to grasp. Yet, if the city were to stack the amount of parking fines collected in single dollar bills, it would nearly reach to the average altitude that a commercial airliner flies above the surface of the earth.”
* Women right advocates protesting abortion laws over the weekend say they were unnecessarily broken up by state police using excessive force.
Their complaints stole the spotlight on the Senate floor Monday as Democrats decried law enforcement action during the protests.
The Roanoke Times editorial board wrote Tuesday that state officials overreacted at the Capitol over the weekend.
Chances are, some of them welcomed the opportunity to be arrested and thus increase publicity for their cause. That doesn't excuse the overreaction by state officials who summoned state police officers with riot gear. Thirty-one protesters were arrested because their rally permit did not include the steps.
The level of security was unnecessary and far exceeded that for annual gun-rights rallies in which nearly every participant is armed.
* Federal authorities raided the offices of big D.C. political donor Jeff Thompson on Friday as a part of an investigation seemingly related to campaign finance corruption.
WAMU.org reports that a review of campaign finance records reveals a trail of money orders tying Thompson to Council member Vincent Orange and potentially other city leaders.
Over a two-day period last March, Orange received 26 money orders as contributions to his campaign fund, each worth the maximum of $1,000. Because money orders are rare in campaign finance reports and many of them came from out of the states, they have raised suspicion among D.C. politicians.
Now a review of these donations finds that many of them can be traced back to Thompson and his longtime associate Jeanne Harris. While neither name appears on the money orders, the paper trail, according to WAMU, leads to their family members who live in other states.
The D.C. Mayor’s office is diverting the millions of dollars it saved in special education costs away from the city’s public schools and into unrelated projects such as the One City Summit and The Lincoln Theatre, according to The Washington Examiner.