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Kirwan Funding Debate Heating Up

February 21st, 2020 by WCBC Radio

WBAL reports Del. Eric Luedtke, the House majority leader, said the proposal to lower but expand the sales tax is just one idea to fund the Kirwan Commission's recommended education reforms and stressed that, one way or another, those reforms will be funded.

Speaking to Bryan Nehman on Friday, Luedtke argued the sales tax must change in response to an economy that has pivoted toward services.

"Look, here's the fundamental question, right? Why do we tax books but not bookkeeping? Why do we tax the tools you buy at Home Depot but not the engineering services that designed it?" Luedtke said. "Our economy's changing, we have a lot more services. We've got to figure out how to keep up with that in terms of funding government."

Luedtke said, contrary to Gov. Larry Hogan's Thursday remarks, day care, like health care and other social services, will remain exempt from the sales tax.

Under the Kirwan Commission's funding formula, the state must invest $2.6 billion more in education each year. Another $1.4 billion each year would be split among Baltimore City and the 23 counties.

"The biggest con ever sold to the American public was the idea that you can get something for nothing," Luedtke said. "People want great schools. Great schools cost money. We've got to figure out where to get that money from. It may be this idea. It may be another idea. But I think it's worth having an honest conversation with Marylanders about that fact."

Luedtke was reluctant to cast the plan as a tax increase, even though it would increase the tax burden for many Marylanders. He conceded that it would raise revenue. He disputed that the plan was at odds with a pledge made by Senate President Bill Ferguson not to increase the sales tax, emphasizing that the tax rate would go down from 6% to 5% under the proposal.

Luedtke said if Hogan doesn't like the idea of changing the sales tax, he should offer an alternative. Hogan has opposed any tax increases to pay for the commission's recommendations.

3 Responses to “Kirwan Funding Debate Heating Up”

  1. February 21, 2020 at 1:52 pm, Ron said:

    Gov. Hogan is exactly right on this one.


  2. February 21, 2020 at 2:09 pm, David said:

    Bend over Marylanders, the Democrats will make sure that they force through funding this ridiculous “study.” It provides no proof that any of its alleged improvements will do anything to better our schools. Sad but true.


  3. February 21, 2020 at 3:04 pm, Kevin said:

    Of all the funding talk that has been thrown around, the services tax is probably the best one. Other states around us do it, and at a higher rate. It is realistically the least difficult tax to pass and collect. It should have been done decades ago.


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