Game On

We’ve been told by sources that Governor O’Malley will announce he intends to call a special session of the state legislature as early as today and no later than Monday. O’Malley Watch is running the same rumor and has pegged the date of the session as October 29.

Bring it on.

The special session, at this juncture, seems risky. Everyone knows of Governor Ehrlich losing control of two special sessions he called. At first blush it doesn’t seem as though Governor O’Malley has any more support for slots or taxes than did Governor Ehrlich before his sessions. Without a clear legislative victory, it will be hard for a Democrat governor of an overwhelmingly Democrat state to be seen as anything other than damaged goods.

O’Malley has based his vaporware budget balancing scheme on a three-legged stool composed of nominal budget cuts, the legalization of slots, and big honking tax increases. Only one of those items will really be on the agenda.

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Contrary to the adminstration pap being flogged by most of the media this session cannot make cuts in spending or even restrict the rate of growth because there is no budget proposal for the legislature to act on.

Slots appear dead in a special session. If the Republican caucus in the senate proves capable of keeping its word then O’Malley will have to roll a significant number of Democrats who have historically voted against slots. Odds are this will not happen.

That leaves taxes. Lots of them. Big taxes. Small taxes. Taxes on taxes. And that is a battleground Republicans should relish. As the spectre of forking over more and more of our hard earned cash into the gaping maw of state government looms large, increasing numbers of Marylanders are expressing their dissatisfaction.

As I’ve said before. The Republicans gain absolutely nothing by going along with tax increases in a special session. They need to demand that tax increases be directly offset with reductions in spending and the total abolition of some programs and projects and that can only be accomplished in the regular session. If they go along now there is no chance of meaningful budget cuts later on.

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