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Thursday, February 18, 2010:

The Agenda

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Aaron.jpgPrince George's vs. Montgomery vs. Baltimore

Thursday is the revised, extended, post-Snowmageddon deadline for state lawmakers to introduce bills in the House of Delegates, and if Wednesday was any indication, things in Annapolis are about to get interesting.

A final flurry of bill drafting Wednesday appeared to have set the stage for a Prince George's-versus-Montgomery-versus-Baltimore battle royale over state funding.

Prince George's Del. Justin D. Ross (D) filed a bill that would take aim at funding formulas that in the eyes of many from the county's delegation have allowed Montgomery to retain a larger share than it deserves under state statutes designed to distribute money from rich counties to poor ones.

In response, Montgomery lawmakers were circulating a bill that would change the way average daily school attendance is calculated. The move could further reduce funding for Prince George's, as well as draw Baltimore lawmakers into the fray because their districts could be shorted tens of millions of dollars under possible scenarios.

Stir in bills already filed by Montgomery lawmakers to ease penalties on their county's school district, and a couple of themes become apparent:

In the third year of the recession, there's too little money left to please everyone. With all 188 state lawmakers up for reelection, pressure on incumbents to bring home even a little extra could also outweigh calls for party unity. And whatever tug-of-war unfolds, the tension is bound to play out among leaders within the Democratic majority, which controls the purse strings.

Problem is, this year there is no way to please everyone -- or possibly anyone. With a finite amount of state tax revenue, there is little, if any, leeway for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Democratic heads of the General Assembly to please county delegations as in the past with one-time grant money to smooth out dips in formula-driven aid to counties. Any extra money this year must be perceived as going to help stimulate the economy and to create jobs.

Let the battle begin. Money for one county must come from another.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Governors' lofty pledges outstrip job-creation abilities

Thumbnail image for O'Malley mouth open.jpg"Even before President Obama acknowledged Wednesday that the stimulus has not done enough to create jobs and called for new federal measures, governors across the country had launched their own initiatives to increase employment," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "But the job-creating ability of governors -- who are making lofty and, at times, suspect claims -- is severely constrained by a lack of money and authority.

Thumbnail image for McDonnell.jpgMaryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) was among more than 30 governors to use a statewide address in recent weeks to vow that tax credits and other measures would entice employers to begin widespread hiring. Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has gone so far as to declare that his plans will create 29,300 jobs in the next two years, although thousands would come from initiatives that haven't worked elsewhere."

In related news: "Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration on Wednesday reported the number of jobs that have been created or saved in Maryland in its second quarter report to the federal government on how economic stimulus money has been used," the Associated Press reports. "The administration said nearly 20,000 jobs have been created or saved in the state."

Ehrlich seeks fans; Mikulski waits to make it official

Ehrlich hand.jpg"Here's the latest sign that former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) is gearing up to run again: He's asking past supporters to become fans of his Facebook page," writes The Post's John Wagner. " 'It's the best way to hear directly from Governor Ehrlich about what it will take to make Maryland strong and prosperous again,' says an e-mail sent overnight Wednesday to Ehrlich supporters."

Thumbnail image for Mikulski.jpgMeanwhile, "Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said in an interview Wednesday that she intends to wait a few more months before formally announcing her reelection try," reports The Sun's Paul West. "An announcement would be just that: a formality. As far as the Federal Election Commission is concerned, she's already a candidate."

Harris clashes with Senate Democrats on pay, employment

Harris mug.JPG"The Democrat-led Maryland Senate on Wednesday soundly rejected a proposal by a Republican member running for Congress that would have reduced state lawmakers' pay by 2 percent in coming years," reports The Post's Wagner. "During a testy partisan debate, Democrats argued that the measure proposed by Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County) was unnecessary because most senators have voluntarily returned a portion of their pay during the past two years out of solidarity with furloughed state employees."
Meanwhile, "the Democratic president of the Maryland Senate wants Sen. Andrew P. Harris to fire his chief of staff -- a directive characterized Wednesday by the Republican lawmaker as 'Chicago-style' bare-knuckle politics, writes the Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz. "Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller ... said Kathy Szeliga must stop working for Harris or stop running for the House of Delegates."

Unspun

Anthony Brown.jpg"I do believe it's a noble calling"
Anthony G. Brown
An offbeat interview with the lieutenant governor of Maryland

Thumbnail image for 230px-Speed_Racer_promotional_image.jpegGrowing up, was there a TV show you would never miss?
"Speed Racer" came on at 3:30 in the afternoon. School let out a little after 3, and it was maybe a 10 or 15 minute walk home. Any cause for delay, and that was a real problem.

obama mug.jpegDenzel Washington.jpegName three celebrities for whom you've been mistaken.
The obvious is Barack Obama, and that's probably the only one. If I don't get that once a day, it's an unusual day. ... I'd by lying if I said Denzel [Washington]. Really, that's it."

Check the Maryland Politics blog at 10 a.m. for the complete interview by John Wagner, in which Brown also discusses the tree he most resembles, the music he downloaded for Valentine's Day and the second-best candidate for governor in 2014.

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  February 18, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Unspun: Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown

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