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The Sopranos Enter Maryland's Budget Battle

The Sopranos have gone into retirement, but the recently ended hit HBO series is still lively fodder for Maryland politics.

This week, Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Queen Anne's) accused the executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties of using a lobbying tactic on the state budget deficit that "resembles the type of arm-twisting used by Tony Soprano and his ilk."

The source of Pipkin's ire was an email sent by MACO's David Bliden to county leaders asking them to share with the governor's office examples of pain that will be felt if the state pushes off some costs on the counties. Some leading lawmakers are advocating cutting state aid to locals -- which accounts for about 40 percent of the state budget -- as a way to close a looming shortfall of nearly $1.5 billion.

In his email, Bliden asks that examples be sent to Josh White, the intergovernmental affairs director for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

"Josh is interested in coordinating a message for the Governor as he goes on roadtrips to the counties," Bliden wrote. "He is looking for ... real vignettes of the county 'doomsday' budgets ... like closing libraries, reductions in deputies, larger class size, no support for volunteers firefighters. ... The Gov could be visiting the counties during the next weeks, which presents an opportunity to deliver."

Pipkin said the email "lays out an arrogant and shameless blueprint for getting locals to back tax increases" at the state level as an alternative to cutting county aid.

Bliden said he was "perplexed" both by Pipkin's comments and his reference to the fictional mobsters and said he has nothing for which to apologize.

"Even Tony Soprano couldn't arm twist his cronies to believe the right solution to the state's fiscal challenge is to simply shift the problem to the counties, as some propose," Bliden said. "Senator Pipkin would be better served in getting governance perspectives from Simpson's reruns than the Soprano's."

By John Wagner  |  July 13, 2007; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Ehrlich's term was defined, like it or not, by slots.
Gov. O'Malley's term will be defined by tax increases. How can there be not a penny to be saved in 40% of the state budget? Any thinking person could find an economy or two in 40% of their family budget.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | July 13, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of slots and budget cuts. If the MD legislature is so afraid of the damage slots gambling can do to the residents of MD, why do we have a lottery? With slots, people will have to get to one of a few locations to gamble, presumably at Pimlico and Laurel Park. However, any poor person living in the inner city or in a rural area, can go down to the local convienience store or liquor store and buy as many lottery tickets as they want. If we are trying to protect the people from gambling, then shut down the state lottery. But, wait a minute, the state controls all lottery money, but may not control all slots money. Could this be the real reason they are against slots?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that MACO is using our tax dollars (they get their fees, I believe, from county tax dollars) in order to lobby for higher tax increases. That certainly seems unethical to me.

Posted by: MK | July 13, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Of course no one wants their budgets slashed...running state, city or county is a tough job even at current budget levels. This just sounds like politics as it is played in every state and county in the U.S. Where has Pipkin been hiding out? This has been going on since the beginning of time. Who wants to be the one to tell a police chief that he will have to do more with less. Lets face it lives are at stake and folks are worried that they mayhave to pay more taxes. America has borrowed too much...we all should have been paying as we lived and we have been living well. The problem is that EVERYONE budgets for the future, one fiscal year at a time....but what you spend does not always equal revenue for the following year...its always more or less.

Posted by: Donny | July 13, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

When you parse this piece, you are left with, Wagner says, that Bliden claims, some "unnamed" "leading lawmakers" assert that the solution to the budget issue is for the state to pass the buck to the counties.

I would like specifics. Which leading lawmakers so assert, and who demurs?

Posted by: Count Bobulescu | July 14, 2007 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Is there one Maryland county where people would start moving out of state because their county cuts the county bidget by 10%?

Posted by: name one | July 14, 2007 7:56 AM | Report abuse

"This dude is Anthony Lamar Nunley, Renee A.' s brother (Philadelphia), Linda's son (Maryland) and singer Tabi Bonney's cousin. He worked as a manager in Samsung (Dallas TX) and in Motorola (Chicago). He was born in Washington, Columbia District, United States, the 25th of December 1969. He studied electric engineering at Howard University...

Posted by: Niqui | July 15, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

This weekend the Post wrote its third editorial in favor of massive tax increases in Maryland.

Posted by: 27 to go | July 16, 2007 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Buenos dias!
Check this out!

Posted by: William_nz | August 1, 2007 2:28 AM | Report abuse

And some more..

Posted by: Juliana_dn | August 1, 2007 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Check this out!

Posted by: John Lead | August 15, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

And some more..

Posted by: Sabina_ht | August 15, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

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