General Assembly: Democrats see budget retaliation
Some cuts in the governor's spending plan may be punishment for special-session votes, leaders of the majority party say.
By David Nitkin, Andrew A. Green and Ivan Penn, Sun Staff
January 21, 2005
Launching a review of the governor's budget proposal with eyes that may be jaundiced by recent battles, Democrats in the General Assembly say they see signs of retaliation in the $25.9 billion spending plan released this week.
Lawmakers are wondering aloud whether Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is trying to punish them for votes cast during last week's special session by eliminating programs that they favor, withholding money from jurisdictions where leaders live and abolishing patronage long enjoyed by legislators.
"I'm certain that some members are feeling the power of the executive, as many of us [Republicans] did under Glendening," said Sen. David R. Brinkley of
It is not clear whether the proposals are intended to inflict real harm or are more a negotiating tool that could soon disappear through compromises. Ehrlich can ill afford to alienate the Assembly, where Democrats hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers, if he hopes to secure passage of his slot-machine plan or other priorities.
Others say Democrats are being too sensitive, and deny that Ehrlich is trying to punish the opposing party. "They are looking at the bogeyman that doesn't exist. Or to put another way, maybe they are running a little scared and overreacting," said Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, the House minority whip, whose Southern Maryland district includes parts of Calvert County.
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