…Signifying Nothing

The Baltimore Sun reports on a decision by Governor O’Malley to conduct an end run around the state legislature and use a pair of executive orders (the orders are available at O’Malley Watch) to allow child care workers and home health aides to join unions and collectively bargain if their wages are subsidized by the state.

“If workers want to elect a union so their voices can be heard, we should not stand in the way of that,” O’Malley said last night.

Both issues have been hotly debated in the General Assembly, and neither idea got a favorable committee vote this year. Collective bargaining for child care workers in particular pitted organized labor against some child advocacy organizations that argued that the proposal would make child care more expensive and put it out of the reach of low-income families.

Let’s call this for what it is. It is a tawdry payoff to a handful of O’Malley loyalists, primarily the SEIU and AFSCME, at the expense of the rest of us. If these orders come to fruition, Governor O’Malley will have succeeded in exacerbating the “structural deficit” by requiring the state to come up with more money to pay for the labor agreements or he will have succeeded in moving child care and home health care beyond the reach of a lot of Marylanders.

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Ultimately, the senate and house of delegates will have to ratify this action by appropriating the additional funds the labor agreements. In this fiscal environment there is a better than even chance that this will turn out to be little more than a publicity stunt as there simply isn’t the money to pay for this extravagance.

In the macro, however, this and the land swindles in Queen Anne County run hand in hand. We are barely 7 months into the O’Malley administration and already the grubby hands of his supporters are in the cookie jar. It will only get worse.

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