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House GOP Opposes Special Session

What they lack in numbers, House Republicans made up for in humor yesterday.

"We asked you to come today so we could give our whole-hearted endorsement to the governor's plan."

That was how House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert) began a news conference to offer a response from the 37-member GOP caucus to a series of tax increases and other proposals rolled out by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in recent weeks to close a looming $1.7 billion budget shortfall.

Unfortunately for O'Malley, that was about the only kind thing said about the governor's tax plans. The real purpose of the gathering was for O'Donnell and House Minority Whip Christopher Shank (R-Wahington) to make known their opposition to O'Malley's desire to hold a special session on his proposals by early November.

O'Donnell called that prospect "a horrible idea," saying Marylanders "deserve a transparent public review and debate of these significant policy changes." He also accused the governor of being "deceitful" about the impact of his plans on working families.

O'Malley has proposed an overhaul of the state's income tax brackets under which only upper-end earners would pay more; increases in the state's sales, tobacco and titling taxes; a decrease in the property tax; and the legalization of slot-machine gambling to net $550 million in proceeds for the state.

A reporter pointed out that the House GOP is marching in rare lockstep on this issue with both House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), a former delegate in the 141-member House. Both Busch and Franchot have said the budget can be addressed when lawmakers reconvene in January for their regular session.

"Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while," O'Donnell said.

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese declined to join in the fun, saying that the governor "looks forward to working with the Republicans and Democrats alike to get Maryland's fiscal house in order."

By John Wagner  |  October 2, 2007; 5:27 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Comments

Wow. There's still a MD GOP? I thought my Dad was the last surviving member!

Posted by: Donny | October 2, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

WHAT ABOUT THE PUBLIC? What about public hearings? This is not a fait accompli. This is not a dictate. This tax incease program was not mentioned in $10 million in TV ads less than one year ago.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | October 2, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry Donny, your father isn't alone. There's still a few of us neocons out there (whatever that word means-first time I've used it). However, I think O'Malley could define "neocon" rather easily. That would be anyone that questions why he wants to close a $1.5B shortfall with $7.6B in tax increases.

Not scared? You ought to be. Read for yourselves:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071002/METRO/110020089/1001

Posted by: BG from PG | October 2, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Why is Governor O'Malley so surprised by the growing opposition to a special session of the General Assembly for the purposes of considering the Governor's tax package? I am not saying that the tax package should not be considered by the legislature given the state's current fiscal situation. However, I simply do not understand how the General Assembly can consider a multifaceted tax package without a state budget before it. Moreover, I think the Governor should recognize that a special session will cost a considerable amount of time and money - money that could be saved by considering the package in a deliberative fashion during the regular session which is only about 90 days away. Additionally, one point that I have not seen raised in the media: has the Governor considered the impact on the schedules of the professional sta ffs as well as the legislators if a special session is called for the month of November? People have already made, I'm sure, travel plans, family plans and commitments for activites with their children. I think the Governor is asking too much of the people who will be working behind the scenes to make a special session a reality.


Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

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