Lawmakers listen to complaints

February 24, 1997


Staff Writer

BOONSBORO - More than a dozen state workers turned out at a Sunday mid-session forum hosted by two Washington County lawmakers to demand pay raises and to list other grievances.

The state's gambling laws and auto emissions requirements also surfaced as hot topics among the roughly 65 residents who came to the American Legion hall Sunday afternoon.

Several speakers urged Democrat Del D. Bruce Poole and Republican Sen. Donald F. Munson to fight for better treatment of state employees.


"I'm sorry I snapped earlier," Brian Coss, a Department of Corrections worker, said at one point. "When you've had two pay raises in seven years, it's a little hard to bite your tongue."

Poole and Munson said there is little they can do because Gov. Parris Glendening's budget has not proposed pay raises for most state workers. The General Assembly cannot add spending to the governor's budget proposal.

"You deserve better than that, and hopefully, next year will be a better year for you," Munson said. "You folks need to keep agitating for next year because next year is the big political year" because it is an election year.

Brian McDonnell, a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said legislators can cut spending in other areas and urge the governor to use the money for pay raises.

"Legislators in this state do have more power to influence the budget than they admit to a lot of times," he said.

Munson later said he will look for savings in other parts of the budget and urge Glendening to move the savings into pay increases.

Poole said he favors a pay increase of at least 4 percent.

Joe Greeley said he thinks it is unfair that Glendening's budget proposal includes a pay raise for state police officers, but not for other state workers.

John H. McCune, who is not a state worker, drew hearty applause when he contrasted most state workers with the county delegation's proposal that the sheriff's salary be raised $12,500.

"I can't equate a salary increase like that and sit here and listen to you people beg for a salary increase," he said.

Several corrections workers expressed frustration that the legislature defeated a plan to make it a felony to hurl a "corrections cocktail" - blood, urine or other bodily fluid - at a guard.

Katherine Benner, who works in the public defender's office, said it is difficult to get transfers to other departments.

Several residents also bitterly complained that Washington County has been forced to take part in a state program that requires car owners to test their vehicles for tailpipe emissions.

The Herald-Mail Articles