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Forum set for candidates in Md. governor’s race

BETHESDA — Candidates for governor of Maryland outlined some of their plans to benefit the state’s most populated county at a forum that drew roughly 800 people to an early morning breakfast on Monday.

Three Democrats and three Republicans spoke at the event sponsored by the Committee for Montgomery, a coalition of county business, education and community-based groups.

Attorney General Doug Gansler, a Democrat seeking his party’s nomination, underscored his background as the former state’s attorney of Montgomery County. He highlighted his proposal to cut the state’s corporate income tax from 8.25 percent to 6 percent to match Virginia’s tax rate. In the first year of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration, the corporate income tax rate was increased from 7 percent to 8.25 percent.

“Our companies are fleeing from here to Virginia,” Gansler said. “We need to bring our jobs back.”

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, O’Malley’s lieutenant governor who is seeking to succeed the term-limited Democrat, noted a gas tax increase that was approved largely to help ease terrible traffic congestion in the county, which neighbors the nation’s capital. He said businesses will be attracted to a place that has made investments in infrastructure, such as roads, rail and schools. He said he will back an increase for school construction money in Montgomery, as he supported an increase in schools funding for Baltimore city earlier this year.

“We’ll do it this year for Montgomery County,” Brown said.

Harford County Republican David Craig, who is seeking the Republican nomination, also expressed support for building more schools, noting that seven new schools have been built in his county during his tenure.

“People make decisions on where they are going to move based on the school system,” Craig said. “We’ve done that in Harford County.”

Del. Ron George, R-Anne Arundel, emphasized his proposal to cut income taxes by 10 percent across the board. He said he wants to focus on building a stronger tax base in Baltimore, so less tax money from the more affluent Montgomery County will be needed.

“We need to keep that money home, so part of my plan is to build a tax base in Baltimore, bring jobs back,” George said.

Del. Heather Mizeur, a Democrat from Montgomery County, said she would work to create a more inclusive state government. She also noted her plan to legalize and tax marijuana to help raise revenue to pay to expand pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds by the end of her first term. She also wants to expand it for some 3-year-olds.

“On issue after issue, what you will find from me in this race and my running mate, Delman Coates, is an interest in changing politics as usual,” Mizeur said.

Republican Charles Lollar said he will focus on controlling state spending and making the state more attractive to businesses.

“We need to bring business back,” Lollar said.

Maryland’s primary is scheduled for June 24.