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Notes from the trail

December 07, 1997

Notes from the trail

Strange things can happen in an election year - just ask Maryland Speaker of the House Casper R. Taylor Jr.

The Allegany County Democrat is a veteran of five election-year legislative sessions in the General Assembly and said last week he is concerned that the upcoming 90-day session, which starts Jan. 14, will have many lawmakers scrambling to protect their pet projects.

"The election year always brings more politics to the surface than we normally have to deal with," he said.

A great political battle will likely take place over the issue of state funding for education, which stirs enough rancor even in a non-election year as lawmakers try to grab school money for their home counties.

This year the stakes are much higher. First of all, the state has a surplus that Taylor said could be as high as $350 million by the time the legislature convenes - a pot of money that will surely whet some political appetites.

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Fueling the fire is a proposed aid package for Prince George's County similar to the $254 million the state approved last year for Baltimore City schools. Now many lawmakers from other parts of the state are wondering when the state will dump a pile of cash on their counties.

Taylor said the General Assembly must resist handing out election-year windfalls to certain parts of the state and instead look at how the state funds schools throughout the state.

"I think we're going to have an answer that's satisfactory - not only to Prince George's County, but also to the other counties in the state," he said.

More GOP voters

Republicans continue to hold a narrow lead over Democrats in the number of registered voters in Washington County, according to the latest voter data through Nov. 30 from the county election board.

Of the county's 62,889 registered voters, 28,014 (44.5 percent) are Republicans, while 27,714 (44 percent) are Democrats. Earlier this year county Republicans surpassed Democrats for the first time in the history of the Board of Election Supervisors.

The next largest group of voters is the 6,312 people - about 10 percent of the overall electorate - who declined to list a party affiliation on their registration form.

Another 804 voters, about 1.2 percent, belong to a variety of small parties. There are also 45 voters in the county who affiliated themselves with Ross Perot's Reform Party.

Mayberry won't attack Goldstein

The last time someone other than Louis L. Goldstein was comptroller of Maryland, Ike was living in the White House.

But Boonsboro resident Timothy R. Mayberry, a self-employed banking consultant, believes he has a shot at unseating the man who is about to complete his fourth decade next year as the state's chief tax collector.

"I have nothing against the man. I have no desire to attack him," he said.

He just plans to attack Goldstein's management techniques, which he maintains are costing the state $200 million a year - a claim Goldstein has disputed

Goldstein, 84, has held elected office in the state every year since 1938, except for four years when he served in the Marine Corps during World War II. He is the longest-serving statewide officeholder in Maryland history.

He has already announced a bid for another four-year term.

Seeking re-election

Washington County Board of Education President Robert L. Kline said last week he intends to run for re-election next year, when five seats will be open on a school board that will expand from five to seven members.

Kline, who is serving his first four-year term on the school board, is also the mayor of Funkstown.

- Guy Fletcher

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