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Maryland Passes Income Tax Hikes, Budget Measures

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Maryland lawmakers concluded the first of an expected two special sessions Wednesday.
Robert Williams (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwillia532/6023529955/)
Maryland lawmakers concluded the first of an expected two special sessions Wednesday.

The Maryland General Assembly has adjourned its special session, after the House approved a package that included tax hikes and spending measures.

After about three hours of debate, delegates in the House cast their votes, approving the measure 77-60 largely along party lines. That was the closest of the three votes today. Other bills passed today raise taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco and make counties pay for part of teacher pensions over the next four years.

One of the Democrats voting no was delegate Ariana Kelly of Montgomery County. She feels raising income taxes on couples making more than $150,000 a year unfairly punishes two-income working families.

"We are not talking about two people," says Kelly. "We are more than likely talking about three people or four people, and the little people are the most expensive you can have living in your home."

Fellow Montgomery County Democrat Kumar Barve, the House Majority Leader, doesn't believe the tax hikes are burdensome: "People who make a quarter of a million dollars are going to pay an extra six and half dollars a week. Six and a half dollars a week.  Eight-seven percent of people in Maryland will have no increase."

On Monday, the Maryland Senate passed the measure by a vote of 27-19.

While lawmakers are on their way out of Annapolis, having averted the so-called "doomsday" budget, they may not want to get too comfortable back at home. Senate president Mike Miller says another special session, this time focused on gaming, will likely take place in late June or early July.

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