Maryland — Governor Martin O'Malley has unveiled a series of initiatives comprising part of the O'Malley-Brown Administration's 2009 legislative agenda. These legislative announcements served to further Maryland's Smart, Green and Growing initiative.
"Our Smart, Green and Growing legislative agenda is focused on protecting Maryland's precious, yet limited, land resources in every region of our state, so that our families and children will someday be able to share these natural treasures with their own kids in the same way that our parents and grandparents shared them with us," said Governor O'Malley. "It's time to move from 20 years of treading water to 20 years of cleaner water and more sustainable growth."
The O'Malley-Brown Administration's Smart, Green and Growing legislative agenda includes a number of smart growth initiatives, including protecting the integrity of Comprehensive Plans, modernizing the state's Planning Visions, and developing Smart Growth Markers for state and local governments. In addition, Governor O'Malley is proposing measures to revise and reauthorize the Maryland Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program and reinforce the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) bill from the 2008 legislative session.
Governor O'Malley, joined by Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Richard E. Hall, announced six related bills that would:
- Strengthen local government Comprehensive Plans to protect communal investment in the plans and maintain their integrity by overturning the Terrapin Run case;
- Modernize the state's Planning Visions to address current challenges and expand them to include priorities such as economic development, housing and public participation;
- Collect good information on how Maryland is growing to inform local, regional and state planning through Smart Growth Measures or Markers;
- Reauthorize, green and enhance the Maryland Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program; and
- Broaden public revenue sources that can be used for Tax Increment Financing for Transit Oriented Development.
- Provide regulatory authority to establish Aquaculture Enterprise Zones while revising shellfish leasing terms, streamlining the process for aquaculture businesses to flourish in Maryland.
The Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in Maryland has also delivered its report to Governor O'Malley. The 21-member task force, created under HB 773 in the 2007 legislative session, began meeting in January 2008 with 13 specific charges to fulfill. The Task Force continues until December 2010. The 89-page report — entitled "Where Do We Grow from Here?" — presents an assessment of current conditions in the state and outlines 52 recommendations for furthering smart, sustainable growth in Maryland.
South Carolina — Governor Mark Sanford has released the sixth Executive Budget of his administration — a balanced, activity-based $5.8-billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2009-10 that prioritizes spending in a tough budget year, provides for an optional income tax rate cut while phasing out the corporate income tax, offers $267 million in cost savings, and largely protects core government functions such as education, law enforcement and health care.
Governor Sanford's plan spends $800 million less than last year's original budget. Using a record amount of cost saving — things like shortening the legislative session and restructuring the technical college board system — the spending plan calls for a $200-million increase in spending over the latest round of budget cuts, reinvesting those dollars in priority areas.
The governor's budget also contains a proposal for an optional flat tax of 3.65 percent — paid for with an increase of 30 cents per pack in the cigarette tax, elimination of sales tax holidays and a new landfill tipping fee — aimed at bettering South Carolina's competitive position when it comes to tax rates. The plan also recommends eliminating the state's corporate income tax over a 10-year time period, taking the rate from 5 percent to zero. The governor's tax plan will move South Carolina's overall business climate ranking from 25th to 6th.
A complete copy of the budget is available online at www.scgovernor.com.