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Washington Co. lawmakers react differently to O'Malley's speech

January 24, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Some heard strong, smart ideas on behalf of Maryland's citizens.

Others called Gov. Martin O'Malley's speech a reflection of wrongheaded taxation and spending.

Within Washington County's Maryland General Assembly delegation, Del. John P. Donoghue, a Democrat, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, a Republican, were at opposite poles.

"I think he did a great job of making very clear that we have to honor our priorities," Donoghue said.

He said tax measures the General Assembly passed during a recent special session protected those priorities and Wednesday's speech shows the course will continue.

Conversely, Shank said that while O'Malley described the state's residents as "hurting" in tough economic times, "another reason they're hurting is because of his role in passing the largest tax increase in Maryland's history."

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Proposing a fiscal year 2009 budget with about $1.8 billion, or 5.9 percent, in higher spending "demonstrates that he just doesn't get it," Shank said.

"The solution is not higher taxes," Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said, referring to a $1.3 billion tax package passed during the General Assembly's recent special session. "The solution would be lower taxes."

"Where are the efforts to make further cuts?" Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, asked.

Myers said he agrees with O'Malley's push for "green," energy efficient construction. But he wants more details on how the state will use money it saves.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, was pleased to hear O'Malley put public safety at the top of his agenda.

"It seems as though he considers that an important mission ...," he said. "Fighting crime is one of the most important things government can do."

Munson applauded some initiatives the governor mentioned, such as expanding the state's DNA collection efforts.

"I was very pleased that he did not talk about additional taxes," he added.

Shank said he agrees with the governor on a few criminal justice measures, but he blasted O'Malley for failing to take necessary steps so the death penalty can again be carried out.

The state effectively has a capital punishment moratorium in place because of a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling on how the death penalty was enacted.

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