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Donoghue fails to support Ehrlich agenda

June 13, 2004|by Philip Baker-Shenk

Earlier this month the local Democrat Party asked Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch to give the keynote speech at its annual banquet.

This was the same Speaker Busch who recently pushed his billion dollar tax hike through the legislature in Annapolis over the objections of Republicans. Yet when he came to dinner in Hagerstown, according to the Herald-Mail's May 14 news story, all that Speaker Busch wanted to talk about was how "Republican leadership ... would divide society into privileged and working classes" in contrast to Democrats who are "representing average citizens."

Let's see. Would those "average citizens" be the people who Speaker Busch wants to pay heavier and heavier taxes and whose kids attend deteriorating school buildings? Or would those "average citizens" be Busch and his fellow Democrat legislators in the Maryland House of Delegates who voted to spend tax money on a new office palace for themselves instead of schools for children?

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Washington County voters will see through Speaker Busch's demagoguery. Speaker Busch and his self-aggrandizing, fiscally irresponsible colleagues in Annapolis want to spend our tax money on themselves and their friends. And spend it like there is no tomorrow.

Despite the gubernatorial election of Republican Robert Ehrlich in 2002, Maryland Democrat leaders seem to think they can continue to enjoy the fruits of their decades-long, one-party rule in Annapolis.

And unfortunately, Hagerstown's own delegate, Democrat John Donoghue, has yet to read the writing on the wall that says the days of Democrat-scale spending on the taxpayers' credit card are numbered in Maryland, and most certainly, in Washington County.

Delegate Donoghue actually joined with Speaker Busch in voting last month to spend $32 million of our tax money on a new Annapolis House office building for Donoghue and other delegates, even though our Washington County schools are in dire need of new and upgraded facilities.

That's right, Busch and Donoghue voted to spend millions of your dollars on a new office building for themselves instead of for schools for children. Their current House office building is better looking than most school buildings. Isn't that good enough for a legislature that's in session only 90 days a year?

So why did the House Democrats want a new office building so badly they voted down a Republican-led amendment to transfer these funds to rehabilitate critically-needed school buildings? Maybe because they're jealous of Senate Democrats?

Ever since the extravagant Mike Miller Senate Office Building was built, House Democrats have been pushing for their own new Taj Mahal.

The new Annapolis House office building that Delegate Donoghue and Speaker Busch want for themselves is to have six new meeting rooms, a slate roof, a penthouse and a dome. Half of the entire third floor would be an office suite for Speaker Busch with a fireplace and a balcony. Wow! After more than 30 years of unchecked Democrat rule in the Annapolis legislature, this brings new and creative meaning to the phrase "public service."

A common-sense Republican, Del. Herb McMillan, offered an amendment last month to the Maryland capital budget that would have transferred $32 million from the new House office building project to critically-needed school construction throughout Maryland. His amendment failed on a vote of 47 to 84, largely along party lines.

Unlike Delegate Donoghue, the rest of Washington County's delegation, all Republicans, voted for the McMillan amendment, which was a vote for schools and a vote against self-interest. May the numbers of common-sense Republicans increase.

While Delegate Donoghue may counter that he voted against Speaker Busch's billion dollar tax hike, the fact is that Donoghue all too often has voted with Busch on taxing and spending, obstructing Governor Ehrlich's efforts to bring common sense fiscal responsibility to Maryland's government purse.

When the next Maryland House elections roll around, the voters will have an opportunity to decide whether Delegate Donoghue's vote this year on the McMillan amendment was in the interests of Washington County taxpayers and students or in the interests of Speaker Busch and his elitist colleagues in Annapolis.

Of course, every one of us makes mistakes. And hopefully survives to regret them.

Maybe that's why Democrats throughout Maryland are reconsidering their party affiliation. Several weeks ago the mayor of Emmitsburg switched his affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

As with Ronald Reagan's example, there is a rich tradition of maturing Democrats deciding to switch their party identification to the Republican Party.

Certainly if Democrat delegates like John Donoghue come to their senses, join the Republican Party and vote like Republicans, they will be welcomed to join us in building a common sense state government.




Philip Baker-Shenk lives outside Sharpsburg and chairs the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

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