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Delegates: Amendment striking funds for dam repair is partisan retaliation

April 07, 2010|By ERIN JULIUS

ANNAPOLIS -- An amendment to the state's capital budget bill strikes a $550,000 grant that would fund repairs to the dam at Devil's Backbone Park.

The amendment, which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee, removes a matching grant to the Washington County Commissioners for dam repairs and reroutes the money to the Maryland Intercounty Connector, Del. Gail Bates, R-Howard, said Tuesday.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who worked with the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to secure the funding in the capital budget bill, learned of the cut Tuesday morning.

Two more chances exist for amendments to be added to the bill.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, expect the first chance to come today when the capital budget bill goes before the full House of Delegates for final approval.

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The second chance would come when the bill goes to a conference committee of senators and delegates, where they work out the differences between the House and Senate final versions.

Munson sits on the committee that will deal with the dam funding and said he plans to offer an amendment that restores the grant.

"I'm really fighting very hard for this because I think it's that important for Washington County. I'm hopeful the senators will stick with me in conference committee," he said.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who alerted Munson to the cut, called it partisan retaliation for the four other Washington County delegates -- all Republicans --voting against the budget last week.

Myers, head of the Washington County delegation, defended his vote against the budget. He didn't want to vote for a budget that asked state workers to take more furlough days, he said.

"For me, a vote for this budget is for me to vote against state workers," he said.

Myers said he thinks cutting the dam funding was retaliation against Shank. The dam is in Shank's district.

"It's extremely small-minded and petty for somebody to want to do this. To punish us, or me, and just play these kinds of games," Shank said Tuesday.

The dam repairs could have been funded other ways, such as through another $150,000 in the budget allocated to the Department of Natural Resources for dam restoration funds, Shank said.

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