By Len Lazarick, Len@MarylandReporter.com
A Senate committee voted on four of Gov. Larry Hogans tax relief proposals Friday, significantly scaling back three of them and outright killing a fourth.
Average taxpayers will see little to no immediate effect of any of the measures as passed by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
PERSONAL PROPERTY: The committee did vote to cut personal property taxes for small businesses with less than $10,000 of physical assets, but the relief wont happen for two years.
AUTOMATIC GAS TAX HIKES: Hogans proposal to stop automatic gasoline tax increases passed two years ago was stripped from SB589, but the committee did vote to limit increases triggered by the Consumer Price Index to 3%, rather than 8% cap in current law.
With inflation still under control, the CPI is not expected to go above 2.5% in the near future, a legislative analyst told the committee.
It goes up, but it never goes down, said Sen. George Edwards, R-Garrett. But he conceded the new CPI cap is better than whats in there.
MILITARY PENSIONS: A proposal to totally exempt all military pensions from taxes over four years was replaced with a plan to increase the current exemption of $5,000 in retirement pay to $10,000. This tax exemption for military retirees has passed the Senate in past years, but died in the House Ways & Means Committee, according to its main sponsor Sen. Doug Peters.
FIRST RESPONDER PENSIONS: The Hometown Heroes Act, SB594, a bill to exempt up to $29,000 of the pensions of police, firefighters and other first responders, was defeated based on its cost $3 million next year rising to $11 million in fiscal 2020. This applies to any first responder retiring over age 50. In Maryland, anyone over 65 has a state income tax exemption on pension income up to $29,000, the maximum Social Security benefit.
Four senators opposed the committees unfavorable report on this administration bill: Sens. Addie Eckardt, R-Dorchester; Edwards; Andrew Serafini, R-Washington; and Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, who had sponsored his own version of the hometown heroes bill before Hogan introduced his.
RAIN TAX: The Senate has already passed its own version of Hogans repeal of the so-called rain tax, a stormwater remediation fee. But even if a county actually repeals a tax to fund treatment of polluted stormwater in an effort to meet a federal mandate to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the county must still submit a plan to remediate stormwater and the money to pay for it.