Maryland lawmakers move ahead with first tax on Internet ads

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND (AP) — Maryland lawmakers are moving forward with a first-in-the-nation tax on Internet ads for Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook to help pay for a comprehensive and costly measure to improve K-12 education.

The Maryland General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, overrode Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of legislation for the tax on Friday. Lawmakers also voted to override Hogan’s veto of the separate education bill, a measure which is projected to cost billions of dollars over the next decade.

Senator James Rosapepe, a Democrat, said the measure aims to modernise the state’s tax system and make thriving Big Tech companies pay their fair share.

“If we don’t modernise our tax system, if we don’t make sure that the new winners in the new economy pay taxes just like every small business on Main Street in Maryland, we’re going to be in deep trouble,” Rosapepe said.

The Senate voted 29-17 to override Hogan’s veto, the minimum number of votes to reach the three-fifths needed. The House of Delegates voted to override the veto earlier in the week.

The education measure, which has been years in the making, focusses on five main policy areas. They include expanding pre-K, increased teachers pay, college and career readiness, aid for struggling schools and accountability in implementation.

It also aims to address inequities in schools that serve high numbers of children in poverty. Billions of dollars to implement it would be phased in over 10 years, reaching about USD4 billion in added spending in fiscal year 2030.

Senator Guy Guzzone, a Democrat who chairs the Senate’s budget committee, pointed out that the state has been planning for the education measure for years, and that the state already has set aside money for the first four years of the framework.