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Best Week, Worst Week: Md. taxpayers to get $3.2B windfall; former BCPS superintendent indicted

best-worst-012718Maryland taxpayers will be handed an extra $3.2 billion in economic benefits next year thanks to changes in the federal tax law while a former Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent was indicted this week.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported that a new analysis released Thursday by the Office of the Comptroller estimated that while most taxpayers will pay less in federal taxes, state tax bills in some cases will go up. The net gain for the state, however will be $3.2 billion in economic benefit and $438 million in additional revenue.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said the state came about the number by examining every tax return filed for tax year 2014 rather than taking a statistical sample. He says the majority of Marylanders will benefit from this tax legislation, at least in the short term, but is wary of saying with a lot certainty that this plan provides long-term economic growth for the state or if the predicted benefits are all just front-ended — good for politicians but not good for the long-term economy.

On the heels of the much-anticipated release of the report, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vowed to return every penny of higher state taxes resulting from the federal changes to Maryland taxpayers. The effects of the federal legislation are expected to be one of the dominant issues in this year’s General Assembly session as lawmakers and Hogan look to find a way to offset negative effects on Maryland taxpayers leading up to an election.

Meanwhile, former BCPS Superintendent S. Dallas Dance was indicted on four counts of perjury by a Baltimore County grand jury Tuesday for allegedly not reporting on financial disclosure statements more than $140,000 in income he received from companies working with the county school system.

Legal affairs writer Heather Cobun reported Tuesday that Dance was charged with four counts of perjury for lying on statements filed in 2012, 2013 and 2105, according to the Office of the State Prosecutor.

Verletta White, the school system’s interim superintendent who replaced Dance, was “surprised and saddened” by the indictment, promising the BCPS staff will continue to work to provide the best education possible for its more than 113,000 students. No charges were brought against her or current BCPS officials.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, said the charges “are not only extremely disappointing but inexcusable” if true.

The indictments are not Dance’s first brush with actions that could be construed as unethical. Dance was 30 years old when he was hired as superintendent in 2012 after serving as chief school officer for the Houston Independent School District. He resigned as BCPS superintendent in April 2017, one year into a new four-year contract. A school board ethics probe had previously found Dance committed violations by not reporting his interest in Deliberate Excellence or income earned as an adjunct professor.