February 23, 2005

Gambling Issue Splits Maryland Dems

Sometimes bad tax policy ideas find bipartisan support. In many states, gambling revenues have been that way in recent years. But in Maryland, Democrats in the legislature have staunchly opposed this "quick fix" solution to their budget woes, even as Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich has persistently pushed gambling on the public.

But now, according to today's Washington Post, leading Democrats are split on this issue. The two leading Democratic candidates for the 2006 gubernatorial election come down on opposite sides, with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley supporting some role for gambling and Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan opposing this change.

It's not like Maryland has no better options available. The personal income tax is among the least progressive in the country, and the decline of the state's corporate income tax has been well documented in recent reports by Progressive Maryland and the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute. But many lawmakers persist in thinking of gambling revenues as a "voluntary tax"-- or as a form of entertainment. In fact, as ITEP has argued in a recent policy brief, gambling revenues ought to be thought of as a tax that falls most heavily on the poor--and those with a poor understanding of probability.

In fairness to O'Malley, he seems to understand that this approach to revenue raising is simply wrong, calling it "morally bankrupt" in the Post article. But this arguably makes his position even more unforgivable. If his plan for raising revenues is morally bankrupt, what does that make him?


At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great point about Mr. O'Malley's stand on slots.

People think that the only way to raise any money is to get it from taxing gambling losses. But there are plenty of fat cat corporations out there who are dodging taxes. Let's collect from them first.

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Unfortunate ...For the Tax Paying Public ..that Ehlich..Has been a Good Friend to Big Business..And has Allowed..Heavy Tax Exemptions ..And Tax Credits for them... .The people of Maryland Are Footing the Bill once again ..While big Business keeps rolling in greater Profits..


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