HUNTINGTOWN, Md. (AP) — For Charles Lollar, the best thing the next governor of Maryland can do is cut taxes to make the state friendly for businesses and promote job growth.
Nearly everything else is secondary to the Charles County businessman and Marine reservist who is running in the GOP primary for governor, besides a major reorganization of the state's executive branch that he contends will make state government more efficient. The tea party Republican says the large number of revenue hikes in recent years present too great a threat to the health of the state.
"When someone comes into a hospital, into a trauma center, after a bad accident, let's stop the main bleeding first and let's take care of everything else second," Lollar said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
The Charles County businessman isn't afraid to take on a tough campaign challenge. In 2010, Lollar ran against Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lollar lost with 35 percent of the vote to 64 percent for Hoyer. Undeterred, he's back on the campaign trail to be Maryland's chief executive, on the warpath against increases in taxes, tolls and fees.
Lollar said he regularly hears from college students while campaigning who tell him there aren't enough jobs in Maryland.
"Well, there should be, especially here in Maryland, because for all practical purposes this is one of the best places in the country to start a business if we would just change the economic environment so we can stop pushing businesses out the door and bring them back in," Lollar told a class of students last week at Huntingtown High School in Calvert County.
He also supports allowing hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in western Maryland.
"The natural gas industry in western Maryland would turn it around," Lollar said, referring to the economy.
Fracking is a technique to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into the ground. Fracking has been delayed in the state for study due to environmental concerns.
Lollar wants to phase out the state's income tax over five years. He says he believes it can be done without serious cuts to government services, mostly by cutting waste in state government.
"You do not have to eliminate any essential services," he said.
Lollar will need to be frugal in his campaign, unless his fundraising picks up significantly. His financial disclosure statement in January indicated he had only $5,730 for his campaign. None of his opponents, however, had impressive campaign fundraising numbers in January, either.
Lollar also wants to cut the state's corporate income tax from 8.25 percent to 4.25 percent. Lollar said he would work to eliminate stormwater management fees, which have been dubbed the "rain tax" by opponents. Lollar also is calling for an end to estate and inheritance taxes. A gas tax approved last year by Maryland lawmakers also is a target.
Three other candidates who are running in the GOP primary also are campaigning on proposals to cut taxes. Harford County Executive David Craig also wants to phase out the state's income tax. Del. Ron George's wants a 10 percent income tax cut and a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 8.25 percent to 6.25 percent. Larry Hogan also is calling for tax cuts.
The primary is set for June 24.