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."
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