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Taxes with benefits in Maryland

The Washington Post
October 14, 2014

In the Oct. 12 Metro article “O’Malley’s mixed legacy sways 2 races,” Jean Webb of Baltimore complained that she is “so outrageously taxed that we should have the best schools . . . in the country.” By most measures, Maryland schools are among the best in the nation. Education Week’s 2014 report ranked Maryland schools second-best.

Ms. Webb went on to say that, while she wants to roll back taxes, she doesn’t want to hurt her granddaughter’s education. But studies reveal that the states that spend the most on education are ranked the highest. The Post had an obligation to include these facts in a report about taxes.

The Oct. 12 Metro article about the tax issue in the Maryland gubernatorial race listed the taxes raised during the past several years without distinguishing two — the 2007 cigarette tax increase and the 2011 alcohol tax increase — that were life-saving public health revenue measures.

The 2007 cigarette tax increase caused a 29 percent drop in teen smoking in our state and will save more than 30,000 Marylanders from early, preventable tobacco-related deaths. Evidence from other states suggests that the 2011 alcohol tax increase contributed to declines in excessive alcohol use and related harms. Further, unlike other taxes, polls show that Maryland voters strongly support increases in alcohol and tobacco taxes to save lives.

Plainly, it would be good policy and good politics for all candidates for state office in Maryland to make clear that they would not try to repeal these life-saving measures.

 

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

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