No one wants higher taxes, and former Virginia Gov. Robert Ehrlich says he won’t raise them, on one condition -- he gets his job back.
Ehrlich, a Republican who is proposing a 1 percent cut to the state's sales tax, said he's not ready yet to disclose how his budget proposal would address a budget deficit of more than $1 billion. But he said he plans to address that later in the campaign.
"We're not even thinking about fee stuff," Ehrlich told reporters when questioned whether he is considering raising fees instead of taxes. He answered "no" when a reporter asked a follow-up question about whether fee increases could be under consideration.
Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has said he doesn't intend to raise taxes, but he has stopped short of making a campaign pledge.
O'Malley has been quick to point out that Ehrlich raised property taxes and a variety of fees, including vehicle registration fees, when he was governor during much better financial times.
Taxes have been a big campaign issue so far. Ehrlich has criticized O'Malley for raising a variety of taxes during a 2007 special session, including an increase in the sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent and a jump in the corporate income tax from 7 percent to 8.25 percent.
But O'Malley has fired back that Ehrlich wasn't nearly as disciplined in spending as he says he was, pointing to property tax increases, higher tolls and fees and big increases in college tuition when the Republican was governor.
Ehrlich, however, said the O'Malley administration has celebrated transportation projects and Chesapeake Bay restoration, while criticizing fees Ehrlich raised relating to transportation and bay restoration.
"You can't have it both ways," Ehrlich said Wednesday after speaking to some small-business owners and families at Kaufman's Tavern in Gambrills. ``You can't celebrate the successes of dedicated sources of revenue that have worked and then criticize fees on the back end.''