Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Special Session Concludes

I started blogging in June as a way to pass the time while I was laid up recovering from ankle surgery. With such timing, I hadn't experienced keeping up with an election or a legislative session.

Frankly, it was amazing to watch the thorough coverage of the special session, but now that it's over, conservatives need to focus on what's next.

MD GOP chairman Jim Pelura presents an eloquent summary of the clandestine whooping put on Maryland families:
The Special ‘Tax Hike’ Session ended just as we have come to expect – in
the dark of night. Over the past twenty-two days, Martin O’Malley and the
Democrat leadership disregarded the wishes of those they represent and instead
fed their appetite to spend, spend, and spend some more.

Before this sham Special Session began, the Maryland Republican
Party warned that the Democrats would ram through tax increases against the
wishes of Maryland families and all without much public scrutiny or
oversight. Unfortunately, we were right. In a break from tradition,
legislative hearings during special session were often conducted without the
public being able to listen to the hearings over the internet. O’Malley
officials and Democrat leaders failed to provide copies of documents and fiscal
notes ahead of time to the legislators, public, or media. Committee
chairmen even stifled questioning by citizens and prevented them from going on
record with full rebuttals to these disastrous economic policies.

The linchpin for all of these tax increases was agreement to place the
slots issue on the ballot next year. Without that agreement, the tax
increases would never have happened. Whether someone supports or opposes
slots, we should all agree that we should not tamper with our Constitution for
gambling. A constitutional amendment is unnecessary, and even Comptroller
Peter Franchot has warned against ‘contaminating’ the Constitution for such a
frivolous idea.

When the Special Session began, I cited figures from the Department of
Legislative Services that it would cost taxpayers about $34,000 per day.
In the end, it has cost Maryland taxpayers over $300 million a day. We are
now left with a $7 billion price tag for this Special Session. This
full-fledged mugging of Maryland families should be criminal.

Streiff points out the shame of the rather inexplicable failure of Republicans to completely unite and put up as much of a fight as possible. Whether Republicans thought they were buying political capital to try and affect things down the road, or they were even more shrewdly following their self-interest, we now know the result.

In this state, Republicans have to be on the same page to have a fighting chance at anything. Dr. Pelura's statement, in my estimation, provides a rallying point that should remind all of us of what happened.

There still isn't a budget. O'Malley wanted to special session so the tax increases could start ASAP, but the budget process remains. Hopefully logic will prevail and conservatives in the legislature can do some real good for Maryland.

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