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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s 20 by 2020 tax-reduction proposal

On July 20, amid a sea of competing—and ambitious—tax-cut plans touted by her opponents, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake rolled out her plan to reduce property taxes by 20 cents (per $100 of value) over the next eight years. The ground shook as homeowners about the city leapt joyously at the prospect of a $40 annual tax savings in 2013, 10 times that a scant two more mayoral administrations hence. Quoth the press release: “Providing property tax relief for city homeowners is an important priority that will help to attract and retain families in Baltimore,” Rawlings-Blake said. “During this difficult economic period, it makes sense to target the city’s limited resources for property tax relief directly to homeowners first to have a bigger impact for families. . . .” As the Baltimore Brew’s Mark Reutter pointed out, the plan is a rehash of the one then Mayor Martin O’Malley proposed in 2005. The program was suspended when the economic downturn hit in 2008. The mayor’s plan would be paid for by revenues from a planned (and much delayed) slots parlor. As Reutter observed: “The idea of preventing low-income renters from enjoying property tax relief may be a tough sell. So, too, leaving out the city’s ailing schools may prove unpopular given that slots revenue by law must go to property tax relief or education. Under Rawlings-Blake’s plan, schools will get only 10 [percent] of the slots revenue pie.”

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