March 6, 2010

MC County Executive Ike Legget wants more tax on alcohol

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett joined a broad coalition of Maryland citizens in Annapolis to urge a ten cents per drink increase in the tax Maryland imposes on alcohol. Maryland has not increased its tax on wine and beer since 1972 and on its tax on liquor and spirits since 1955. Maryland taxes on these beverages are the fourth lowest among the 50 states. "One dime more can help Maryland meet critical needs," said Leggett. Among those joining Leggett were Delegate Bill Bronrott (at far left) and Montgomery County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (at far right).

March 5, 2010

Interview with Delegate Bill Frick

'Trying to influence outcomes quietly' An offbeat interview with a Maryland politician Interview by John Wagner Name Bill Frick Party Democrat Age 36 Home Bethesda Position Delegate representing District 16 in Montgomery County

Growing up, who was the sitcom character with whom you most identified? Alex P. Keaton from "Family Ties." I still identify with him, but somewhere along the line I adopted the politics of Ben 'n' Jerry.

On which television reality show would you be the most likely to excel? I loved "The Mole" on ABC. ... A freshman delegate can be effective like the Mole -- by staying under the radar and trying to influence outcomes quietly.

Check the Maryland Politics blog at 10 a.m. for the complete interview, in which Frick also reveals what kind of tree he most resembles and makes a prediction about how many of his House colleagues will wind up in the Senate after the November elections.

SOURCE: Washington Post on 3/5/10: First Click

March 3, 2010

Bruce Stern enters race against Van Hollen

BETHESDA, MARYLAND – In the race against Rep. Chris van Hollen (MD-08), a Republican candidate has officially entered the contest. Bruce Stern a lawyer specializing in family and real estate law, has filed papers with the Maryland State Board of Elections to run for Congress. Daniel "The Whig Man" Vovak has made a series of phone calls encouraging candidates to compete with Van Hollen. Yesterday he spoke with Bruce Stern, and congratulated him for filing his papers. Vovak also spoke with Gus Alzona, a Republican Committee member in District 16, who is considering entering the Republican primary. Vovak says, "It's too early to decide whom I would endorse, though I invited both candidates to a party at my home on March 25 (Maryland Day) when I am hosting the campaign launch for Meyer Marks, who is running for State Senator in District 16. Currently, Democrats have a monopoly in Montgomery County, holding every elected seat. I am doing everything I can to revive the county's Republican Party and lead them to victory." Vovak has been in consistent communication with Steve Hudson, the 2008 winner of the Republican Primary for Maryland's Eighth District. Hudson has since moved to Virginia where he practices medicine.

March 2, 2010

Montgomery County school board approves $2.26B budget

The Montgomery County school board approved a $2.26 billion operating budget for the next school year on Wednesday that allows the school system to operate with the academic programs it currently uses, but could enact deep cuts if the County Council doesn't fully fund the school system's request.

With a unanimous vote, the board approved a spending plan that is $37.2 million more than Superintendent Jerry D. Weast's original budget proposal in December. The operating budget was increased to include additional state aid that wasn't available when Weast drafted the initial budget.

The school system's proposal assumes the County Council will fund its maintenance-of-effort requirement, which mandates under state law that local governments fund their school systems at least at the previous year's level.

For the Montgomery County Council, that means allocating at least $79.5 million for the school system's budget.


March 1, 2010

MC loses 30% of its millionaires

Millionaires are moving out of Montgomery County, and the "millionaire tax" is one reason why. In 2008, the General Assembly raised taxes for millionaires from 5.5 percent to 6.25 percent. Now, the county is losing them to states with lower taxes. Some wealthy residents who own homes in other states are establishing residency elsewhere, according to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. This is not doing much for the county's budget troubles.

The flight of the wealthy has caused a sharp decline in taxable income. Records show Montgomery County lost more than $4 billion in taxable income for the 2007 and 2008 tax years. The number of income tax returns above $1 million for that period were down almost 30 percent. Next year's budget deficit will be more than $761 million, county officials estimate. Much of this shortfall is tied to a few residents who have either lost money in the economy, died or fled from the millionaire tax. The millionaire tax expires this year, but the General Assembly is considering an extension.


February 28, 2010

Montgomery County budget shortfall hits $762,000,000

Montgomery County officials are considering laying off as many as 250 employees to help fill a $762 million budget shortfall in fiscal 2011, Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine said Tuesday.

The size of the shortfall has grown by $154 million from earlier this year, when the figure was put at $608 million. Part of the increase was due to the high price tag for snow removal and cleanup following the recent back-to-back blizzards — more than $25 million.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said Tuesday that he is weighing several options to trim the budget, but has made no final decisions on his proposed budget, which is due March 15.

"Essentially, everything is on the table," Leggett said of possible cuts.

SOURCE: Gazette