GBC priorities for 2008 legislative session

Repealing the recently-enacted sales tax on computer services, strengthening incentives for business investment, and protecting state funding for roads, transit, port and airport resources will be among the Greater Baltimore Committee’s top priorities as lawmakers convene on January 9 for the 2008 Maryland General Assembly session.

GBC president and CEO Donald C. Fry will urge lawmakers to repeal what he says was a hasty decision during the final week of the 2007 special session to expand Maryland’s sales tax to a broad range of computer services, which would increase annual sales tax revenue by more than $200 million, according to estimates. The new tax will take effect on July 1.

The new computer services tax will have a “disproportionately negative impact on small business” and targets an industry “that is critical to our state’s competitiveness,” the GBC notes in its 2008 Legislative Agenda distributed to lawmakers. The GBC will develop proposals to lawmakers for alternative savings or methods to raise other new revenue that would be less destructive to Maryland’s business climate, said Fry.

The GBC also urges lawmakers to support dedicating $20 million to the state’s biotech investment tax credit, increasing available research and development tax credits to $15 million in FY 2009, from $6 million in FY 2008; and enacting a tax credit for life sciences and technology businesses that locate at research parks affiliated with Maryland’s higher education institutions.

Meanwhile, the GBC supports the creation of a “firewall” between the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and the General Fund to protect transportation funding resources from being borrowed for other purposes that would slow or defer the maintenance and expansion of the state’s transportation system.

The GBC urges that firewall elements should include requirements that transfers from the Transportation Trust Fund can only occur in cases of extreme emergencies and by a super-majority vote of legislators. Any transfers of funds should be subject to an immediate repayment schedule, contends the GBC.

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