Six Republican Senators Sell Out on Kirwan

We’ve been talking for months, for years, about the Kirwan Commission recommendations. We’ve talked about how the recommendations would be disastrous for taxpayers, disastrous for students, and disastrous for the state budget. Governor Larry Hogan has rightfully tagged the Kirwan Commission as the “Kirwan Tax Hike Commission” for the Commission’s unsavory sandbagging of taxpayers on the massive tax hikes the commission recommendations will require.

Well, early this morning, in the middle of the night, without public input, during a public health emergency, the State Senate adopted the Kirwan Commission recommendations by a 36-9 vote.

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You will notice that there are only 9 votes against the Kirwan Recommendations. There are 15 Republican State Senators. That’s because six State Senators, nearly half the Senate Republican Caucus, voted for the Kirwan Commission.

Those Republican Senators are:

  • Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (District 8)
  • Senator George Edwards (District 1)
  • Senator Andrew Serafini (District 2)
  • Senator Michael Hough (District 4)
  • Senator Johnny Ray Salling (District 6)
  • Senator Addy Eckardt (District 37)

Four of those Senators (Eckardt, Edwards, Salling, Serafini) are the four Republicans who sit on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

Some Republicans are citing the circuit breaker provision as a reason to vote for the entire package.  This is the amendment in question. The amendment limits education aid to the rate of inflation. The Republicans are banking on an economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to trigger this circuit breaker. Even if this circuit breaker is triggered, the passage of Kirwan will still necessitate massive tax increases that Democrats will still push for, either before adjournment or during the proposed May Special Session.

And whether these Republican Senators admit it or not, they’ve already cast a yes vote for these taxes by voting yes for the Kirwan plan.

Even more damning is the fact that this vote for the Kirwan Commission recommendations is slap in the face to Governor Hogan and his efforts to combat the Democrats reckless plan and the reckless tax increases that will go with it. Governor Hogan is now being forced into a situation where he may veto a bill that had the support of six Republican Senators, a politically challenging position since six Republicans broke with common sense and the party line.

Let’s be perfectly blunt: the Republican Senators who voted for the Kirwan plan, and any Republican members of the House who may ultimately vote for the Kirwan plan, sold us out. They have stuck a thumb into the eye of the Republican activists who fight to elect Republican candidates and a thumb into the eye of the voters of Maryland who voted for Governor Hogan and his opposition to tax increases. This is yet another situation of, as Grover Norquist once described it, the “rat head in the Coke bottle” that brings down the Republican and the conservative brand as being the opponents of wasteful spending and tax hikes.

These are good people. They took a bad vote. But votes like this hurt conservatism, hurt taxpayers, and hurt Maryland’s education system. I’m not even mad at this point. I’m just very disappointed.

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