Is Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley risking his political future with calling this special session of the General Assembly? Or is he making a wise and calculated choice to focus on resolving
Last Monday evening in a brief five minute opening address to the
The other statement that caught my attention was when he said "Maryland Teachers have said a vote for this plan is a vote for public schools". A significant one sentence statement for it indicates he has the support of Maryland Teachers, an important organization.
This week, the legislation proposed by the Governor will be presented and the details will become available for the legislators and the public to review. This schedule is posted on the Maryland Governor's web site the link is on our Home Page under Government.
It appears Slots - video lottery terminals, a heated and much discussed topic may be headed for a Referendum by the voters in 2008. Again, O'Malley has used a catchy and descriptive phrase to describe the turmoil here by saying the debate on slots in
However, that is easier said than done. It has been said that Maryland Senate Republicans who supported Slots under former Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich will vote against O'Malley's proposal and instead offer their own version which will involve auctioning off the video lottery terminals to the private sector for what they say will result in a faster revenue source for the state.
A strong supporter of Slots, Md. Senate President Thomas V. Miller (D) has reportedly stated that representatives are elected by the voters to make these decisions, not to put them off in a referendum.
And then we have Democratic leaders House Speaker Michael Busch and Md. Comptroller Peter Franchot who oppose slots. So a lot of muddy water here to go along with debating the details of how Slots would actually operate in
Maryland Senate President Miller has a valid point trying to determine what would go on a ballot for voters to decide is much more cumbersome than the elected representatives in the House and Senate reaching consensus and passing legislation that is clearly laid out for the voters to see and understand.
If passage of Slots in
Even though it looks bleak now, a move by the general asembly to pass Slots in the special session could still happen. It makes much more sense to resolve the Slots issue now in a clear manner and have the state budget benefit sooner from the revenue generated.
An increase in the sales tax from 5 to 6 cents is likely to pass for several reasons - it is fairly easy to do and is an across the board increase which will generate the highest amount of revenue (500-750m) of any action proposed.
Changes will also occur in
The increase of tax on tobacco to help fund health care programs will be strongly debated but will most likely be passed as well with a reported $1.00 increase on a pack of cigarettes. This is a reversal of a position held by Governor O'Malley prior to his election when he was reported as having said he was opposed to funding health care programs by taxing cigarettes when we are trying to get people to quit smoking. Certainly, a program funded by these sources should be budgeted out with declining revenues over the years as people hopefully quit smoking.
Governor O'Malley has taken a very deliberate approach to this special session. He has made a strong case for his proposed legislation. The schedule has been clearly laid out and the presentation of the legislation will unfold this week.
Now the challenge is for the state Delegates and Senators to reach consensus, pass meaningful legislation and put the budget deficit behind us.