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HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL FOR A BALANCED BUDGET

June Smith

After a cold, rainy weekend and a chilly start to the week, the temperature may reach the mid-sixties today. That’s good news for those of us ready to celebrate the Rites of Spring but it is unlikely that the upcoming forecast will include a proverbial “cold day in Hell” Governor O’Malley will need to get his way with the unresolved budget issues.

Ninety days wasn’t enough for the 2012 Maryland General Assembly to pass a balanced budget so there’s talk that the “Guv”, as his opponent called him on a televised campaign debate a couple of years ago, may call a Special Session or two to resolve what the Blues are calling the “Doomsday” budget now in place.

Mike and Mike (House Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller) had breakfast with MOM Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion to talk about it.

The meeting lasted for an hour and afterwards, the Governor said, “We had a good conversation.” And an excellent breakfast prepared by the Mansion’s kitchen staff, no doubt, added to the tab of the taxpayers. I wonder who had the Eggs Benedict…

The fellows chatted about a “timeline” for a special session and although no agreement was reached, the Governor said he thinks Busch and Miller “really want to resolve this budget issue” and that he’s “hopeful” that they will be able to do it.

Busch and Miller have instructed their staff to continue discussing the issue which means they will be trying to figure out who to hit with tax increases. I’m wagering state income tax to win, sales tax to place, and flush to show.

Maryland’s Constitution requires that the budget “be balanced: total estimated revenues must equal or exceed total appropriations. The budget also must reflect any estimated revenue surplus or deficit at the end of the preceding year.” (Constitution, Art. III, sec. 52).

I’m sure that was the Governor’s intention at the beginning of the 428th Session.

In the first paragraph of his letter addressed to the Senate of Maryland; the Honorable Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, President; the Maryland House of Delegates; the Honorable Michael E. Busch, Speaker; the citizens and families of Maryland, dated January 18, 2012 and printed in the Department of Budget and Management’s 179-page Maryland Budget Highlights FY 2013 booklet, he wrote:

“With a balanced approach of record cuts, responsible revenue generation, and strategic, targeted investment, the people of Maryland have positioned our State to create jobs and recover stronger than other states.”

I don’t recall that part of the recent—or revisionist—history of Maryland, but I agree that the State has been “positioned”, just not vertically.

I do recall the General Assembly finding time to symbolically ratify the 17thamendment of the U.S. Constitution and amend the Maryland Constitution to toss out public officials who “plead guilty to, or are convicted of, a felony or certain misdemeanors related to their public duties” like former PG County Council member Leslie Johnson; set septic system and compulsory school attendance limits; establish electronic ethics forms filing—with a shout out to Senator Currie (D-PG County) on that one; reducing the amount of grams/fines for marijuana possession; and impacting fracking. 

Those are only a sampling of the 791 bills they passed, many of which were passed in the final hours of the session. Nothing good happens after midnight, as many NFL players know.

But I digress. Back to the Governor’s letter to the Senate, et al., that ended with these words:

 “To move Maryland forward, we must be willing to make the modern investments our modern economy requires to create jobs – and to maintain fiscal responsibility, we must balance these investments with responsible cuts. This year’s budget calls for this type of balanced approach, so that together we can create jobs and expand opportunity today, and prepare our children to compete and win the jobs and opportunity of tomorrow.”

Maybe he should have a staff member have an assistant send a photocopy of that letter to his legislative leadership friends and foes to pass on to staff to remind them of the “balanced approach” needed to resolve the State’s budget issues.

June Ray Smith

Mrs. Smith is the widow of WBAL show host and Sun columnist, Ron Smith, and Red Maryland Contributor. Her website is www.FriendsofRonSmith.com.





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