Half a billion dollars in new tax proposals were left for dead by Sine Die on Monday night. Sine Die is what we call the last day of Annapolis’
90-day legislative session; in Latin, it means “without a[nother] day.” As 11:59 p.m. wound around the clock on Monday evening, Gov. O’Malley’s grand plan to further tax gas, apps, tobacco, clothes, furniture, music downloads, shoes, Easter baskets, and everything else under the sun died. It was an interesting scene in the Senate chamber. There was a lot of stress, a lot of last-minute desperate attempts by the Governor’s allies to push things through. Senate leadership wanted to increase slots and table gaming revenues to balance the budget, but House Speaker Busch wanted to rely solely on tax increases. The two sides could not come together. The clock inched closer to midnight, and those of us opposed to higher taxes eloquently kept the debate going in a filibuster. We were able to keep these taxes from being passed, which was a real victory for all taxpayers and fiscal conservatives.
Since we were successfully able to fend off half a billion in tax increases, the “doomsday” budget cuts I listed a few weeks ago will go into effect. Now there is a chance that the Governor will call for a special session in May. The sole purpose of that session would be to raise taxes to avoid these “doomsday” program cuts. Our Governor has his sights set on higher office, and half a billion dollars in program cuts would not look good on his resume even though it is the right thing to do for Maryland. However, you may remember that Governor O’Malley already called one special session in 2007 to raise our sales tax by 20% and enact hundreds of millions in other taxes. He probably doesn’t want to have that on his resume again, either. To call a special session or not; that is indeed the question on the Governor’s mind today. While he weighs his options, taxpayers can enjoy a quick sigh of relief. It may not last for long, but for the time being we have escaped the greedy hand of more government.