Yes and Yes

There are two Statewide Ballot questions on the ballot this year, and both deserve your vote.

The second one is the easiest to argue. The question will authorize charter home rule counties to full a vacancy for County Executive by a special election. This is a slam dunk yes, as the current process (as we have seen in Anne Arundel County) denies voters the right to choose who leads their county, and often puts the opposition party on the County Council in charge of determining which member of the County Executive’s party fills the seat. Counties should adopt this immediately, as well as special elections for County Council as I suggested last year. (Full info on the Amendment is here)

The first question is the one that has proven to be somewhat contentious among certain Republicans. The question requires, to quote, “that funds in the State Transportation Trust Fund be used only for transportation purposes and prohibit transfers from the Transportation Trust Fund unless the Governor declares a fiscal emergency by executive order and the General Assembly passes legislation by a supermajority vote approving a different use or a transfer of the funds.” Conservatives have for years been advocating for a so-called “lock-box” on the Transportation Trust Fund and (finally) a version of this has passed the General Assembly.

That, unfortunately, is not good enough for some of our more ponderous colleagues. I will be the first to admit that the Amendment is not as strong as I would like to see it. That idea that it only requires a three-fifths majority of the General Assembly to approve the Governor’s Executive Order of a fiscal emergency is extremely weak and, given the fact that our Democratic Governor’s have often put us in a fiscal emergency, the declaration of such emergencies will become the norm.

But those reasons are not a good enough reason to vote against it. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good in this situation. A lockbox, no matter how weak, is an improvement over the current situation where Governors have freely moved money out of the Transporation Trust Fund, particularly Martin O’Malley when he freely raided the fund while decrying our crumbling state infrastructure.

There are, realistically, only two reasons why somebody would vote against Question 1:

  • You don’t support the implementation of a Transportation Trust Fund; or,
  • You are a defeatist who thinks that conservatives can never reach the magic number of 19 Senators or 55 Delegates.
A bad lockbox is better than no lockbox. You should definitely vote for Question 1. (Full info on the amendment is here.)

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