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Spending a Surplus

With a news conference practically every day rolling out another spending initiative, there was little suspense when Gov. Bob Ehrlich delivered his $29 billion budget this morning.

Still the Republican governor did manage to surprise Democrats with the budget's pace of growth: 10.5 percent. That's higher than any recorded since 1983, when the General Assembly's Spending Affordability Committee started keeping track.

Ehrlich called the spending plan a "responsible budget" that saves for the future and returns money to taxpayers.

"We will not go on a spending binge during a recovery, knowing there will be another downturn," he said at a news conference in Annapolis.

Democrats, some still smarting over Ehrlich's accusing them in the 2002 election of a "cocktail party of overspending," were not so kind.

They called the budget an election-year ploy designed to win votes while ignoring an underlying gap between revenue and expenditures.

"It's an election-year budget to appease angry voters to try to buy votes," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) said.

Derek Walker, executive of the state Democratic Party, called the governor a "hypocrite," citing an April 2005 fundraising letter, in which Ehrlich said that "the people of Maryland sent me to Annapolis to restore fiscal sanity after years of chronic overspending."

Ann E. Marimow

By Phyllis Jordan  |  January 17, 2006; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Governor  
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Memo to Derek Walker: Pot, Meet Kettle.

Posted by: George | January 19, 2006 3:00 AM | Report abuse

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