Waugh, Dyson Face Off on Taxes

By Guy Leonard, County Times (guyleonard-at-countytimes.net)

Steve Waugh (R), left, candidate for Maryland State Senate Dist. 29, and incumbent Roy Dyson (D). (Photo: Frank Marquart)
HOLLYWOOD, Md. (October 21, 2010)—Roy Dyson, the District 29 State Senate incumbent, and GOP challenger Steven Waugh traded barbs Monday night over taxes at a candidate forum in Leonardtown, with Waugh claiming that Dyson flip-flopped on critical tax increase votes in 2007 during a special legislative session, while Dyson defended his record as being a fiscally conservative Democrat.

Waugh, who lives in Calvert County, told the audience at Leonardtown High School that Dyson had voted for legislation that eventually raised sales, recordation and corporate taxes starting in 2008, 21 separate times in committees before finally casting a no vote to the tax increases.

The legislation was the product of the emergency session of the state House and Senate in 2007 to come to grips with the state’s revenue shortfall, and has been criticized with actually reducing sales tax revenues to the state despite the increase in the rate of 5 percent to 6 percent.

Waugh argued that despite Dyson’s final vote in 2007 against the tax increases, that the incumbent senator continually supported the legislation coming up for the vote that eventually led to its passage.

Waugh said that taxes continued to burden businesses locally and that the increased costs, including a 400 percent increase in unemployment insurance legislated by the state in the 2010 session in Annapolis, forced them to shed jobs and even consider relocating to more businessfriendly states.

“We have to make the state competitive and the only way to do that is to cut taxes,” Waugh said.

Dyson told the audience that he would not vote for new tax increases and had never done so in his political career.

“I’m not going to vote for any tax increases, I never have and I never will,” Dyson said.

Dyson said that the county got an extra $1.6 million last year for programs, and that amount would probably be cut in the next budget cycle as an example of the trimming that would continue from actions in Annapolis.

“That’s the kinds of cuts we’re going to have to face in the future,” Dyson said. “I don’t see enough of a mood there to increase any kinds of taxes.”

It was after these claims that Waugh rebutted Dyson with his recorded votes in the senate from 2007, including that Dyson had voted for the so-called “millionaires tax” four times before voting against it finally.

That tax also passed in 2007.

“Look at the record,” Dyson retorted. “I did not vote for those tax increases, I did not do it at all.”

Dyson said that the votes Waugh claimed were not taken because it would have taken more days than were allowed in the entire session, though all 21 of the votes for various amendments are recorded on the Maryland state legislature’s Web site.

“It just didn’t happen,” Dyson said. In a subsequent interview Waugh said that Dyson’s votes prior to the final vote was tantamount to Dyson helping the tax increase bill along.

“If you’re voting with the sponsor you’re voting to defend and pass that bill,” Waugh said.

Dyson retorted in a Wednesday interview that all the votes prior to the final ballots on the sales tax increase and then the “millionaire’s tax” increase were procedural in nature and that only the final vote on either counted in a legal sense.

“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the one that creates the law,” Dyson told The County Times. “The truth of the matter is, I didn’t vote for it.

“All this other stuff is just to muddle things up.”

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