Over the weekend, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) encouraged his followers on social media to object to a “ridiculous tax hike” under consideration by Democratic lawmakers in Annapolis.
And object they did, by reaching out to lawmakers on the House and Senate budget committees.
Hogan’s post, which attracted hundreds of shares, likes and reactions on Facebook, referred to a recommendation by legislative analysts that appropriators, staring down necessary cuts to balance the proposed 2020 budget, could cut the state’s payment on debt service and force the Board of Public Works – which Hogan chairs – to increase the state’s property tax rate to make up for the shortfall.
“As a friendly suggestion, maybe these legislators should address their own out-of-control spending instead of trying to return to the days of their failed tax-and-spend policies,” Hogan wrote. “In the brief time they have been in Annapolis this year, they have already called for an additional $5.6 billion in new mandated spending – and they want you to pay for it. That is the kind of unsustainable, and frankly, irresponsible, behavior you elected me to put a stop to.”
But the property tax recommendation was one of hundreds of millions of dollars of proposed budget-balancing options presented to the House Appropriations Committee last week, and not one the committee was likely to take up.
House Appropriations Chair Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) made that clear at a Tuesday meeting of the committee.
“We are not taking any actions in this committee that would cause that to happen,” McIntosh said Tuesday afternoon.
Legislative analysts are obligated to give the committee “absolutely every tool that we could possibly use to balance the budget,” but that doesn’t mean their suggestions are taken in full or even at all, McIntosh said.
“We are not going to take that action. Nobody has to worry about your real estate taxes going up this year,” she said.
McIntosh told members who’d been receiving emails that they could respond to their constituents telling them not to worry about a property tax hike.
She summed up the issue thusly: “Just a rumor. A little hysteria. A little fun back-and-forth in the budget cycle.”
The committee is expected to vote on a budget package Friday.