The House of Delegates and Senate Monday night passed a new 3% sales tax on alcohol sold in stores, bars and restaurants, with most of the proceeds in the first year going to schools and school construction.And
Advocates for people with developmental disabilities started pressing for an increase in a nickel-a-drink alcohol tax hike 18 months ago. Then they joined forces with a coalition of health care advocates pressing for a dime-a-drink dedicated to improve access to care and reimbursement for caregivers.
The original bill as proposed would have taxed beer, wine and liquor distributors, and raised $213 million, with about $32 million going for developmental disabilities.
After that proposal stalled, the excise tax was turned into an extra 3% consumer sales tax on alcohol, which would raise a total of $88 million. The Developmental Disabilities Administration got just $15 million in the final version, and the other health and mental health programs who would have gotten a percentage of the take in the original bill got nothing at all.
Instead, over $72 million of the new revenue is going to school aid and school construction in the first year, allocations made to gain the votes to get the tax passed. To get the tax’s proceeds to both places, both houses had to pass two bills.
The first $22 million for schools in Baltimore City, Prince George’s, Allegany and Garrett counties helped the new tax get through the Senate. When the bill ran into problems in the House on Saturday, the Ways & Means Committee added $47.5 million for school construction projects, mostly to the large suburban counties in central Maryland.
Del. C. William Frick, D-Montgomery, the floor leader for the debate, said that the alcohol tax before them actually takes the price of the drink into consideration. The “dime-a-drink” proposal would have increased the cost of each individual drink, regardless of its cost. Frick also said that his wife is an alcohol retailer, and she has not opposed the proposal.For the complete article go here.
“I have not had to sleep on the couch,” Frick said.
Del. Michael Smigiel R- Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s, said he did not want to vote for a bill that would take away money for people with disabilities. “We’re like a bunch of hyenas picking at rotting flesh,” Smigiel said.
Del. Susan Krebs, R-Carroll and Howard counties, said that her biggest frustration is that for two years, advocates for the disabled and mentally ill had lobbied for an alcohol tax to raise more money to help them.
“In my opinion, this money is going to buy votes, not where it is meant to be,” she said.
Other bills passed, as reported by the AP in the herald-mail.com:
The Maryland Higher Education Commission will have regulatory authority over for-profit colleges.
Maryland’s $34 billion budget includes tens of millions of dollars in new fees and increases education funding over what was previously submitted by the governor. Certificate-of-title fees for vehicles rise from $50 to $100. A separate fee for paperwork when buying a new car goes from $100 to $200. A fee for filing land records increases from $20 to $40. A fee for vanity license plates doubles from $25 to $50.
Undocumented immigrants will be able to receive in-state tuition if they complete two years at a community college and can show their parents paid state taxes for at least three years before they graduated high school.
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