OPINION: Strengthening Our Middle Class - Southern Maryland Headline News

OPINION: Strengthening Our Middle Class

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

Last year, as we gathered as One Maryland to make the tough decisions necessary to close an inherited $1.7 billion structural deficit, we also implemented a series of measures designed to protect the middle class, create a more progressive tax system, and provide income tax relief for working families in Maryland.

Strengthening the safety net for Maryland families is more than just a series of initiatives or promises. For Maryland's working families struggling to pay the bills, it needs to be more than that. Today, I was joined by Senate President Miller, House Speaker Busch and Comptroller Franchot to remind Maryland families of the new policies in place as they sit down to file their 2008 taxes.

-- Low- to moderate-income families filing taxes today will be eligible for more refundable money out of the state Earned Income Tax Credit thanks to an expansion of that allowable credit. That means $33 million back into the pockets of Maryland's middle class at a time when they need it most.

-- Middle class families filing their taxes today will also have an increased amount of personal income tax exemption – from $2,400 last year to $3,200 this year per exemption. That's about $230 in savings, for example, for a family of four over their 2007 tax returns.

That means when you combine savings from the expanded earned income tax credit and the increased personal income tax exemption, a family of four in Anne Arundel County, for example, could see a total of $475 this year in tax relief that they weren't eligible for last year.

Just as our government strives to find ways to do more with less, so too do working families across our state, as they sit at their kitchen tables contemplating today's rising costs and stagnant wages.

As Marylanders, we have a long Revolutionary tradition of proving that tough times don't last, tough people do. We're going to make it through these tough times, but only if we continue to stick together and strengthen our shared priorities, including the obligation we feel in our hearts to protect our most vulnerable neighbors.

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