Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 25, 2013

Odds not good

Its agenda may fail, but Md. GOP will put up a fight

Chances are somewhere between slim and slimmest that Maryland’s Republican lawmakers will be able to get any of their legislative agenda passed this coming year — but they should have fun trying.

House Republicans — who are outnumbered by Democrats by a 98-43 margin — previewed their agenda over the weekend, calling for a 10 percent income tax cut, repeal of what is known as the “rain tax” and the scrapping of the Common Core education initiative.

The GOP strategy was unveiled during a speech by House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) at the annual fall convention of the Maryland Republican Party in Annapolis.

The Baltimore Sun covered the convention and reported that while the lawmakers face long odds for success, they plan to gain attention by forcing Democrats to consider their ideas. Republicans also hope the floor debates will set the tone for statewide elections next year.

The reduction of the income tax may be the biggest talker. In 1994 and 1998, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey pushed for a tax cut, and she nearly won the election both years.

“We’re going to do that (seek a tax cut) again. Who’s going to do a better job of spending your money? You or the government?” the Sun quoted Szeliga as saying.

As for the rain tax — which requires nine state jurisdictions to fund programs to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff — Szeliga said she and her colleagues think the idea is absurd to the point, “It makes us the laughing stock of the nation.”

On Common Core, she said her party wants the program removed from state schools. Maryland is one of 45 states that have adopted standards for a single set of educational benchmarks for kindergarten through grade 12 in English language arts and math. The Republican legislation would allow individual counties withdraw from Common Core if the state does not withdraw from the plan.

Other GOP initiatives for the 2014 General Assembly session will focus on more rights for gun users and a reduction or abolishment of the state’s estate tax.

We have no doubt that Democrats will carry the day in the end. But at least there will be a free-wheeling debate in the process.

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