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Special Session Round-Up for Wednesday

Here is a selection of news and links from around the web that supplement The Post's coverage of the Maryland special session as of Wednesday, Oct. 31.

The likelihood of productive consensus at the special session is low, says Republican Del. Susan Aumann, who calls it a "sham," according to the Catonsville Times... From The Baltimore Sun, Mayor Sheila Dixon will push to turn an 11-acre warehouse district into a new slot facility to keep gambling out of residential neighborhoods... "Republicans may have staged a rally opposing new taxes, but they're unlikely to prevail unless they change their message," writes Herald-Mail columnist Bob Maginnis... Penn National Gaming, which owns Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's, is pleased with the results of a county opinion poll about video lottery terminals, according to a press release... Democratic Del. John Olszewski would rather the deficit be addressed during the regular session than this one, says a report in the Dundalk Eagle... An Annapolis Capital report discusses a survey of Anne Arundel County residents that came out against tax increases but for slot machines... An editorial in the University of Maryland's Diamondback says "Students have been right to support levying a higher tax on state businesses in order to move higher education spending from discretionary to mandatory"... On a related note, the Sun's Classroom Connections blog has words from the Baltimore schools CEO, who says O'Malley's budget proposal "is not based on any measure of what an adequate education demands. The constitution of the state demands more." But O'Malley's budget secretary says education cutbacks are inevitable, reports the web site of ABC-7... Finally, the Maryland Association of Realtors opposes the tax expansion plan, according to The Examiner, and plans a Thursday rally...

And here are some of the latest highlights from The Post's coverage.

A divide has emerged over just how large the potential state budget shortfall is, writes John Wagner in Maryland Moment... Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) tells reporters that "everything under the sun is being linked to slots"... O'Malley is trying to illustrate the impact of shutting down slots with grim projections, writes Wagner in The Post... Finally, from a report by Ovetta Wiggins and Philip Rucker, lawmakers have come to Annapolis with more than 50 bills of their own, not all of them focused on the issues O'Malley hopes to focus on during the special session.

If you've seen something you'd like to add, post a summary and link below.

-- Compiled by Jamisha Purdy and David P. Marino-Nachison

By Washington Post Editors  |  October 31, 2007; 5:54 PM ET
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Next: Unions, Democratic Party Clash in Prince George's


This is a quote from O'Malley's opening speech:

"Further delay will only compound the difficulty of correcting the half-actions and inactions of our recent past."

The key words in that sentence being "recent past" as to pass this off solely on the last Governor. However, this has been looming for years. The difference between then and now is that the prosperous times of the tech boom and housing market gains of the recent past have allowed previous Governors (Glendenning and Ehrlich) to play a shell game with it.

Now, let me tell you why I was for slots before I was against them.

The last Governor saw this on the horizon, despite overseeing a surplus budget. His solution to the long term problem was slots-all well and fine with me. He made no secret of it during his election campaign and apparently most Marylanders agreed.

BUT, the obstructionists that run the General Assembly (Busch and Miller) would not allow it-for whatever reason. For four years they battled on this issue with no success despite the will of the people. If they now let O'Malley walk away in 10 days with a slots plan (in Baltimore City no less!) be it by referrendum or legislative action, this will amount to nothing short of a crime perpetrated against the citizens of Maryland by the General Assembly.

At this point, the General Assembly has no one to blame for the looming deficit but themsleves for blocking slots for four years.

Posted by: BG from PG | October 31, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

How can progressives vote for a 20% hike in the regressive state sales tax? The only rationale is that this gets us a lot of revenue. So a lot of regressivity is a good thing to a progressive. That argument is really dumbing down the discussion. It is like saying, "Johnny, you don't have to pass a test to graduate, you can do a project instead."

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | November 1, 2007 3:06 AM | Report abuse

BG, are you on crack? Mike Miller opposed slots? In what parallel universe?

Miller was Ehrlich's BFF on this issue for Ehrlich's entire term. Miller's other BFF, Gerald Donovan, mayor of Chesapeake Beach, stands to make great piles of money if slots return to southern Maryland. Not only is Donovan the mayor (and an enormous financial backer of Miller, to the tune of over $50,000 from family members and related entities, including some illegal contributions), but he owns most of the waterfront in Chesapeake Beach as well. You know, the places where slots will undoubtedly be located.

You watch and see. If and when slots happens, Miller will undoubtedly, directly or otherwise, benefit from this action financially.

He's been shilling for slots from day one. He jammed Ehrlich's initial bill through in about five minutes, and was frustrated by Mike Busch in the House. This is the primary reason these two leaders don't like each other -- slots.

Miller also advised O'Malley to call for the special session even when it was clear that there was no consensus agreement on anything, much less slots. Miller believes that the budgetary urgency of the current situation will cause Democrats to rally around O'Malley, and slots will pass, either directly or through a referendum. Miller doesn't care how it happens, only that it does.

You've made a lot of dumb statements over the years, but this one takes the cake. Mike Miller is for slots, and he doesn't care whether it was Ehrlich or now it's O'Malley who gets it done. It's not party, it's money. Get it straight.

Posted by: lefty | November 1, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I can see how someone posting under the handle of "lefty" would consider all of my statements as dumb. Anyone that doesn't agree with your views is usually cast aside as such.

Ehrlich's plans never gained traction because Miller wanted everything HIS way. I call that obstructionism. I don't know where you come from but actually, it is all about party in this state.

...but we can agree about the Donovan and Miller link (see my recent post essentially making the same argument:)

Posted by: BG from PG | November 1, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

You're right BG, that when someone doesn't agree with you that usually people case that as "dumb". When it comes to politics and especially policies of conservatives, you have to call a spade a spade. We've been under Republican rule for almost 7 years and you can see what a bang up job they've done at a national level and across the nation in state houses. Conservative ideology and policy is a recipe for disaster. The proof is all around you.

Posted by: InMoCo | November 1, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Way to keep an open mind InMoCo. All Republicans and conservatives and their ideas are dumb, by default. It must be so much easier when you evaluate policy and ideas based upon party, rather than merit.

Republicans surely have made mistakes (personally I believe that the Republican congress had lost its way and got what they deserved in the last election), but Democrats aren't paragons of virtue either (nice job the Democrats did getting those appropriations bills passed this year - couldn't manage even one?). Neither party has a lock on truth, integrity, or just plain good ideas. Smart people of good will can (and do) have profound disagreements on policy. These disagreements, the ongoing battle of ideas between various factions and philosophies, are a key to our country's dynamic character, and have helped us survive situation that would have torn other countries asunder.

When the political system adopts an orthodoxy that allows only one philosophy as acceptable and correct, it is a recipe for stagnation, repression and ultimately disaster.

But I guess these are just the ramblings of an idiot, because I think Maryland had four great years under Governor Ehrlich's moderate Republican administration.

Posted by: MoCo Voter | November 1, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

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