The Cowardly Lion

When does a lack of courage finally manifest itself in wishful thinking?

We have the answer.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has started exploring the possibility of a public vote on the legalization of slot-machine gambling as a way to build support for the most divisive proposal in his package to close a $1.7 billion budget shortfall in Maryland.

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“I am open to any and all ideas that will get us to consensus, [ed note: we have that word again]” O’Malley (D) said in a brief interview yesterday when asked about a referendum, an idea that has been floated in closed-door meetings this week between the governor and legislators.


Putting the issue on the ballot would require three-fifths majority votes in the House and Senate, more than the simple majorities needed to pass a slots bill outright. The referendum probably would appear on the ballot in next year’s presidential election.

One hardly knows what to make of this. O’Malley knows he doesn’t have enough juice to produce a freakin 50%-plus-1 vote in a legislature where his party has an overwhelming majority. He’s also said that he needs a special session to make slots legal because without that income he’ll have to raise a lot more taxes a lot higher than he says he intends to at the moment. Now he floats a trial balloon that would require him to produce a vote in favor of the referendum by 60% of each legislative house and then it would not get acted on until November 2008.

How does he think he can get 60% of the votes when he can’t get to 50%? How does enacting slots in November 2008 do anything for the state budget? Can we demand the governor take a urinalysis?

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