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Senate Pres. Thomas V. "Mike" Miller. (file)

Hogan, Miller at odds over anticipated Augustine report

ANNAPOLIS — Deep tax cuts are unlikely this year unless Gov. Larry Hogan is willing to agree to alternative revenue sources while also ensuring that the priorities of the General Assembly are satisfied, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Thursday.

The senate president drew the line after seeing a post on Hogan’s Facebook page regarding the anticipated release of a report by the legislature-appointed Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission.

Miller said he expects to see the report sometime early next week when he meets with the Norman Augustine, the chairman of the commission, whose name has become synonymous with the panel. The Senate president said Hogan’s opposition to making any recommendation revenue neutral will hinder the legislature’s ability to approve tax cuts.

“We need balance.” Miller said. “The issue is, since the governor is not going to go along with any of the recommendations in terms of raising revenues, then we’re certainly not going to be able to make deep tax cuts. We’ll make tax cuts, certainly but my premise is it’s only if the state’s basic needs are fully funded.”

“If Baltimore City is taken care of, if Prince George’s County Hospital is taken care of and if there’s still a sizable surplus in the neighborhood of $400 million, $500 million … if we have that huge surplus there’s no reason why we can’t have a reasonable tax cut,” Miller said.

“The governor has said there’s not going to be any kind of tax increase at all,” Miller said. “The governor feels very strongly about keeping his campaign promises.”

A spokesman for the governor said that tax increases of any kind are a non-starter and that Hogan will move forward with tax-cut proposals.

Hogan’s tax-cut plans

Earlier this week, Hogan outlined the broad strokes of about $480 million in tax and fee reductions, including expanding the earned income tax credit, increasing the personal income tax deduction for retirees and waiving all corporate taxes for manufacturing businesses that locate to western Maryland, the Eastern Shore or Baltimore.

“I know it comes as a shock to President Miller and leadership of the General Assembly but the governor is going to keep his campaign promises,” said Doug Mayer, a Hogan spokesman. “That means he will not be raising taxes. In fact, we’ll be cutting taxes.”

Miller’s comments Thursday came after he said he had been shown a post on Hogan’s official Facebook page.

“For like a year, we’ve been waiting,” Miller said. “I’m considering asking our state police to put out an APB. I’m afraid that the Augustine Commission may have been hijacked or kidnapped. I know that they’re recommending, as we have been, that to make our state more competitive, in order to turn our state around, we need tax cuts and I think there are some people in the legislature that empowered them and asked them for their advice who don’t like that their advice came back exactly like ours.”

Status of commission’s work

The commission, which was appointed by Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, last met in December.

A final report has not yet been delivered to legislative leaders, though some members said they received draft copies of the document late Wednesday. The contents of the document have not been made public, and it is unclear if the commission will make a recommendation to cut taxes.

In a closed-door meeting last year, the commission did discuss the possibility of raising taxes on alcohol, gas and tobacco. The commission also received a report from Moody’s Analytics which highlighted Maryland’s high personal income tax rate when the state rate and local piggyback rates are combined.

State Budget Secretary David Brinkley, who is also a member of the Augustine Commission, said the panel rejected the tax increases and added that the group should never have taken up the subject in the first place.

“We understand strategically that the legislature would want (the report) to be revenue neutral, but that wasn’t the charge of the Augustine Commission,” Brinkley said. “We should come up with a menu of items and let the legislature make the policy decision. If they don’t want an entree they can have two appetizers.”