Hogan Camp Incredulous as Jealous Floats Sales Tax Cut Proposal

Jealous with parade-goers
Benjamin T. Jealous at a Labor Day parade this week. File photo

The campaign of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) mocked challenger Benjamin T. Jealous (D) on Thursday, accusing him of simultaneously proposing to increase and to cut the state sales tax. The criticism came on the day that Jealous laid out his “Innovation Maryland” plan to boost economic growth. “I have a vision for making sure that our economy gets going again, that we put more money back in the pocket of working people,” Jealous said at a news conference on West 36th Street in Baltimore. “I’m doing two things that our governor has never done. One is proposing a tax cut for all of us.  … And the other is to make sure our tax system is even more fair.” Among Jealous’ proposals: —  a cut in the state sales tax, from 6 percent to 5.75 percent; — more transparency in state procurement;  — a boost in funding for TEDCO, the state’s Technology Development Corporation, to help startups get off the ground;   — creation of a Clean Energy Workforce Development Program to help Maryland residents learn the skills needed to get hired for “green” jobs; — creation of a Small Business Bill of Rights. “Help is on the way,” Jealous said. “We can build a more robust economy in Maryland and it starts with putting more money back into the pockets of working people, standing up for our small businesses, and getting serious about building the 21st century economy.”

Even before Jealous’ news conference, Hogan’s campaign accused the Democrat of trying to have it both ways. “If you didn’t have whiplash from the velocity of Ben’s out of control spending, you’d have it now as he wildly goes from wanting to raise the sales tax yesterday to promising to cut it today,” said Douglass V. Mayer, Hogan’s deputy campaign manager. “There is no one in Maryland who believes that Ben Jealous will be better for their tax bill than Larry Hogan, but it is clear that Ben has reached the point of desperation where he will say anything to get a vote.”

The Hogan campaign released prior Jealous statements in which he contemplated hiking the sales tax to pay for his “Medicare-for-all” health care plan. The Hogan campaign also said the governor sees the .25 percent portion of the sales tax that Jealous is proposing cutting as a way to help pay for forthcoming recommendations from the so-called Kirwan Commission, which is coming up with a package of proposals to maximize education funding in the state. Asked by reporters Thursday about possible funding mechanisms for his single payer plan, Jealous said he would appoint a panel to explore the options once he’s elected but would not expect final recommendations for a couple of years. “It’s a hypothetical possibility that a panel created next January might, two years from now, consider, possibly, several options, which might include, maybe, a sale tax increase,” he said with a smile. “But that’s literally a hypothetical within a hypothetical.” 

Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent more than two decades on local television, including 14 years as host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the D.C. metro region. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County, as well as a reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. Bruce also is the host of the weekly The Bruce DePuyt Podcast.

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