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Peter Franchot Champions Small Business
WALDORF - 5/3/2008
By Pete Hurrey
Maryland State Comptroller, Peter Franchot is a staunch advocate for the financial health and wellbeing of Maryland, its citizens and the businesses that support the state. Franchot had an informal forum with the Charles County Chamber of Commerce Hospitality and Restaurant Council on Friday to discuss the status of Maryland’s finances with respect to Southern Maryland.
According to Deputy Comptroller, Len Foxwell, the states’ chief financial watchdog and tax enforcer, Franchot, frequently solicits input from area businesses about their feelings on the economy. “He considers these meetings as an indispensable source of guidance,” Foxwell said.
In his remarks to the Hospitality Council, Franchot covered everything from the tourism aspect of Charles County’s rich historical heritage to the price of gas and what his office is doing to investigate the pricing. “We are particularly concerned with zone pricing,” Franchot told the audience.
He provided and example of zone pricing where one station would have one price and the same brand station, four miles away would be priced $.20 higher per gallon for the same gas. “We used to think that the operators of the stations were pocketing the extra $.20 profit, but found out that these operators have no control over the price they are forced to charge.” Franchot said.
Charged with overseeing Maryland’s economy, Franchot staunchly opposes slot machines and other gaming devices, labeling them another tax on Maryland’s citizens. In an example used to clarify his position, Franchot related a verbal picture of Atlantic City, NJ where a block away from the legalized gambling casinos, the city lies in ruin.
The energetic Comptroller is dead serious about catching and prosecuting businesses and individuals that practice deception and fraud when tax reporting. His passion in this area is so strong that Franchot worked with the Federal Internal Revenue service to report tax frauds discovered during tax return revue. The reciprocal deal provides for Maryland to report any evidence to the IRS with respect to discovered fraud and visa versa.
“We originally thought this would generate about $10 million per year in recovered tax revenue, but the program is working so well, it appears that Maryland will benefit almost $20 million per year,” Franchot stated.
Franchot takes pride in the repeal of the Computer Services Tax. He indicated that the efforts of the various chambers of commerce helped in that effort immensely. Because of the repeal and the loss of $200 million in tax revenue, the Comptroller has begun two blue ribbon panels to address revenue short falls.
“We need to develop a fiscally responsible tax strategy as opposed to the trend now in Annapolis of Ad Hoc tax legislation.” He said the ill-fated Computer Services tax was a direct result of the lost hotel tax. “We also have to create a strategy for spending that makes fiscal sense,” he said.
Franchot went on to explain that there are two Marylands: The one inside State Circle in Annapolis that allows people to talk and then doesn’t listen to what they have to say. The other – the real Maryland lies outside of Annapolis; the citizens that pay taxes, use the services and generate the state’s revenues. He feels these are the people he was elected to protect; all of whom are more important to the financial health of the state than the politicians charged with administering to its needs.
Franchot accepts all comments and encourages Maryland citizens and businesses to participate by visiting his website, www.marylandtaxes.com. "We'd love to hear from people," Franchot said as he left to go to his next meeting.
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