Most of Maryland's business leaders were smiling Monday when the 1997 General Assembly adjourned, because they got just about everything they wanted. But some tough choices remain.
But first, the bills passed include:
- A 10 percent state income tax cut phased in over several years. The cut won't put give than a few hundred dollars back to the average taxpayer, but it's a message to prospective industries (and existing ones which might be looking to expand) that the state is trying hard to be business-friendly.
- The so-called "brownfields" legislation, which encourages businesses to redevelop abandoned industrial sites by limiting firms' liability for pollution they didn't cause. As long as businesses couldn't calculate what their true costs for a site would be, they would avoid older sites, using up more property while existing land remained unused, and
- A sales tax exemption for certain manufacturers.
This last will cost the state an estimated $40 million in revenues and highlights an issue raised by House Speaker Cas Taylor. The Allegany County Democrat worries that without some new sources of revenue, when the bill for all the favors granted in this session - the $250 million school aid package for Baltimore, for example - the state won't have enough cash to cover them.