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Donoghue voted for budget all right -- and higher taxes

November 05, 2003

To the editor:

Here's some intellectual honesty or, as Paul Harvey calls it ---"The Rest of the Story."

At the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's recent legislative forum, Del. John Donoghue openly criticized the four of us for our vote against this year's budget. He suggested that our ability to be effective and get local projects through the legislative system was made difficult after we cast a "nay" vote on the budget.

What he did not tell those in attendance was why we voted against it. We strongly believe that in making this vote, we were standing up for the people of Washington County and the entire State of Maryland.

The budget originally submitted by Gov. Robert Ehrlich was balanced and fiscally responsible. What Del. Donoghue failed to inform the members of the audience was that the budget we were asked to approve was balanced with and tied to $135 million of unnecessary new taxes.

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While disguised as "corporate tax increases" these new taxes would be passed right along to working families and small businesses. They would have meant higher costs for goods and services, as well as higher insurance premiums.

Not too many of our constituents have told us they want to pay more for health care!

Increased taxes and fees translate into lost pay increases and lost jobs. Nowhere are increased taxes felt more than in growing areas of the state like Washington County. The tax increase did pass the General Assembly and made it to the governor's desk.

As it turned out, Gov. Ehrlich saved the General Assembly from itself and vetoed the tax increase. We are truly fortunate to have a governor who stands up for working families.

We heard the message of the nearly 70 percent of the Washington County voters who cast their ballot for Gov. Ehrlich last year.

They were tired of the days of fiscal irresponsibility and wanted to put an end to the reckless notion of "spend and tax" government. The voters told Gov. Ehrlich and the General Assembly to fix this mess.

However, it appears that Del. Donoghue didn't get the message. The last thing the voters wanted was the tired old liberal solution of raising taxes to compensate for more government spending.

After the tax bill passed and Gov. Ehrlich stated his intention to veto it, we would have been neglectful of our responsibilities to vote for a budget that was going to the governor's desk unbalanced. We would have preferred to rework the budget and fulfill our responsibility to send a balanced budget, rather than engage in political grandstanding.

To further contradict the statements made at the forum, nothing was lost this past session because of our vote against the budget and against the tax increase.

Fortunately, the only person who can add items to the budget is the governor, not the Speaker of the House, not the President of the Senate and certainly not the Chief Deputy Majority Whip.

This county is best served by our delegation working closely with the administration to promote projects and policies that are needed in Washington County.

As it stands, in a tight budget year, Washington County was the beneficiary of Gov. Ehrlich's vision of a fair and equal approach to distributing funds across the state, a refreshing change from the previous administration's approach.

We continue to take very seriously our responsibilities as legislators.

Our overriding goal is to serve and protect the citizens of Washington County and the State of Maryland. Our votes against the budget and the tax increase defended families and saved jobs.

Now that you know the rest of the story, perhaps you might suggest to Del. Donoghue that he ought to work with Gov.Ehrlich, instead of catering to the interests of the big-government crowd in Annapolis.

Del. Robert A. McKee
Del. LeRoy Myers Jr.
Del. Christopher B. Shank
Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr.
Members Washington County Delegation
Maryland General Assembly

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