It starts tomorrow
Annapolis’ long-awaited version of budgetary Armageddon comes to town tomorrow. And let’s face it: other than the fact that taxpayers are about to get hosed, we don’t really know what is going to happen. If legislative Democrats reverse four-years of precedent under the Ehrlich Administration and decide to support a slots package, the entire session could be over relatively quickly. Mike Miller will likely allow most of the O’Malley tax package through the Senate. In that case, we will see slots, and we will see higher income and sales taxes, to say nothing of the expansion of services and items covered by the sales tax.
But if the slots bill is a no go, the General Assembly will likely go the full thirty-day distance. I see no way that the legislative leadership and the O’Malley Administration will be able to come together on a deal. The O’Malley folks want there to be a consensus on the issue with the leadership, but the O’Malley idea of consensus is everybody agreeing to do what the Governor wants. Given the fact that this leadership style is even more defiant of legislative wishes than even the Ehrlich Administration, O’Malley is risking a lot of political capital on something that is nowhere close to being a sure thing.
My prediction for the session? Nothing gets done, O’Malley’s position is seriously compromised, and he finds himself incredibly vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2010, to say nothing of increasing the likelihood of a Republican victory in the 2010 gubernatorial election.