The Screws Turn on O’Governor

We pointed out a while ago that every day that goes by makes it difficult for the O’Malley administration to close the gap in the $1.7 billion (and growing) “structural deficit.”

Now there is an acknowledgment of this:

There is a good reason why Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) seems eager to see a special session of the General Assembly this fall: Without one, the budget proposals he spent the past two weeks rolling out would not close Maryland’s $1.7 billion shortfall.

By his administration’s own projections, O’Malley’s initiatives would leave a $163 million hole in next year’s budget — and a nearly $500 million gap the following year — unless a series of tax increases are passed in time for collections to start in January.

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As even the Baltimore Sun has recognized, the special session that O’Malley wants can’t address a comprehensive plan to fix the budget. It can only offer tax increases because the FY 2009 budget will not be submitted until the regular session.

It looks like that both Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch realize this and would prefer to not to hop on the governor’s tax-’em-now-tax-’em-harder bandwagon without being able to offer some spending cuts at the same time. A special session devoted to increasing taxes doesn’t poll well even with liberals intent on giving away someone else’s hard earned money.

If the legislature does not meet until January, O’Malley aides said the governor would be forced to offer tax increases or spending cuts beyond those put forward in two weeks of carefully choreographed announcements.

“We think having a special session is the better option,” O’Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said. “If we don’t deal with this upfront, we’ve got to come up with another half-billion dollars somehow.”

As he really hasn’t proposed any spending cuts beyond eliminating a handful of unfilled state jobs, presumably for lack of cronies and sycophants to stuff into them, the subtext here is that more tax increases will be proposed.

As I’ve said before, the Republican caucus should tie what is shaping up to be a shameful spectacle to O’Malley’s tail and require the tax increases to pass on Democrat votes alone.

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