Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot told a group of accountants and tax attorneys in Easton on Thursday that a hike in the minimum wage should be done cautiously — taking into account Maryland’s “fragile” economic recovery.
“Conceptually, I don’t have any problem with raising the minimum wage,” Franchot said to the group gathered at the office of CBIZ MHM, LLC. “But it has to be done professionally and analytically and with all of the necessary protections for small businesses. I’m going to leave that up to the governor and the legislature because it’s not in my bailiwick.”
“We rank 46th in the country in hourly [and] weekly private sector wage growth.” Franchot said. “That’s very hard to spin in a positive way.” He said Marylanders have not seen their wages increase since 2009.
In the video below Franchot discusses a possible hike in the minimum wage.
Franchot also called on the Maryland General Assembly to recouple Maryland’s estate tax exemption, currently at $1 million, with the federal exemption that has increased to $5.25 million under a Bush-era tax cut passed in 2001.
Rather than lose estate tax revenues, the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich in 2004 decoupled the state from the federal exemption and froze it at $1 million. Any estates over $1 million are taxed at 16 percent.
Two bills moving through Annapolis would phase in the state exemption to $4 million by 2017. Franchot said the fiscal cost would be up to $90 million in the first year and another $100 million in the out years.
“That’s entirely payable if we have our priorities straight in Maryland,” Franchot said.
A tax attorney at the meeting said many of his clients have asked him if they should move to Delaware to deal with decoupling of the estate tax.
Franchot said the current estate tax is why some Marylanders are choosing to make their “domicile” in other states.
He said recoupling the estate tax in line with the federal exemption would be an “immediate lift to the state’s reputation.”
In the video below Franchot discusses recouping the Maryland estate tax.