What’s Bawlmerese for “Chutzpah”?
From yesterday’s festivities in Annapolis:
Gov. Martin O’Malley has tied voter approval of legalizing slot machine gambling to funding of his plans for a property tax cut for homeowners, expansion of the Medicaid program for childless adults, and a boost in spending for school construction.
If the General Assembly places a slots referendum on the November ballot next year and voters approve it, the state would get enough revenue to offset a proposed 3-cent property tax cut for homeowners from fiscal year 2010 through 2012 – and also hundreds of millions more for health care and higher education, Joseph C. Bryce, O’Malley’s legislative director, told lawmakers yesterday.
But if voters reject the slots constitutional amendment, then the state won’t be able to reduce its property tax rate, Bryce said at a joint session of three legislative committees reviewing O’Malley’s budget plan.
Well we can never accuse Governor O’Malley of thinking small. It seems he probably has the measure of the General Assembly and this proposal could very well roll over an irrelevant Mike Miller and send Speaker Mike Busch into a spasm of submissive urination. In one fell swoop he allows them to avoid voting against funding a chump-change property tax cut, school construction, and health care for poor kids while, simultaneously, letting legislators maintain their personal opposition to slots. In the process the promise of the Republican caucus to vote against slots slides towards irrelevance.
With slots on the ballot in ’08 the voters will have the same choice: allow slots or turn now a cut in the state property tax rate and decline to fund school construction, etc.
At Wryoak, they see an additional benefit for O’Gov: the emasculation of our very own attack Yorkie, Peter Franchot. Not only will Franchot be ignored by the General Assembly as they reach deeply into our pockets to fund a rather bloated and extravagant state budget but Franchot will not be able to campaign against the slots referendum for the same reasons that the General Assembly will put in on the ballot and the voters will pass it.
An impressive opening gambit to be sure.