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WBAL News Radio: Franchot Doesn't 'See The Reason' For Tax Hike To Pay For Kirwan Reform

Count state Comptroller Peter Franchot among Marylanders who support the education reforms floated by the Kirwan Commission but have little appetite for a tax increase.

Goucher College poll numbers released Monday indicate that his concerns are widely shared; it found that 69% of Marylanders knew nothing about the commission's work. The commission spent three years crafting a 10-year plan to improve schools. However, the poll also found that 69% of Marylanders agreed that teacher salaries are too low and 93% said schools should offer more vocational training. Those are both things called for in the Kirwan plan.

However, the poll found that just over half of Marylanders believe their taxes are too high and only 28% said they would accept higher taxes if it meant more or improved government services.

State lawmakers have floated proposals including an expansion of the sales tax to cover services and a new tax on digital advertising to cover the state's share of the $32.6 billion to fund the reforms over 10 years.

"I'm all for some of the policies of reform of the Kirwan Commission but I think I would line up ... where I just don't see the reason for a massive tax increase to implement some of the reforms that are talked about," Franchot said.

Franchot, the state's tax collector, said he has not been consulted on any tax proposals to pay for the reforms.

"Obviously, it doesn't help the economy to have an increase in taxes, either on small businesses or individuals," Franchot said. "Yes, we can (improve schools), but we can do it within our existing budgets. And then when we find those reforms that are particularly helpful to our kids, perhaps then we can talk about implementing them on a larger scale."

Gov. Larry Hogan has staunchly opposed any tax increases to pay for the commission's recommendations.

Franchot has announced his intention to run for governor in 2022. Hogan is term-limited.

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