State legislatures in full swing; tax cuts proposed

State legislatures in full swing; tax cuts proposed

Legislative sessions in Maryland and Virginia are gearing up amid expectations of partisan squabbles and vows and hopes for some bipartisan agreement.

Each state has a split government, which offers balance but makes it harder to pass legislation. In Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan is determined to cut taxes and has already lowered some registration fees for franchised dealers. Democrats, the majority party in Marylandês General Assembly, are anxious to avoid further cuts to education.

Hogan has proposed tax cuts of $80 million a year over five years for small businesses, the elderly and working families. Maryland Senate President Thomas Mike Miller (D) has suggested that the legislature should instead look at adjusting overall income tax, including business tax, as a way to bring more business to the state. Some lawmakers want to ensure that any tax cuts are offset by revenue elsewhere in the budget. Governor Hogan will likely push harder for his priorities this year, both because itês his second year and he has an approval rating of 63 percent.

Maryland lawmakers this session will also look at other ways to improve the business climate and consider whether to require employers to offer paid sick leave. Democrats will push a bill mandating seven paid sick days a year for full-time employees.

Virginia, of course, has a Democratic governor and Republican Assembly. Governor Terry McAuliffe has proposed lowering the corporate tax rate to 5.75 percent from 6 percent, saying that would bring more business to the state. But some Republican lawmakers say they would prefer a broader look at the overall tax code.

An economic initiative in Virginia could garner bipartisan support. The governorês budget set aside $38 million for Go Virginia, based on public-private partnership and offering –growth and opportunity grants,” proposed in bills in the House and Senate. The money is intended to encourage collaboration on private sector growth and job creation. The distraction of Virginia being a swing state in the presidential election could make it harder to get anything done.

Based on reports from the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Associated Press.

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