George Michael: Overtime in Annapolis

May 04, 2012|By GEORGE MICHAEL

Sports fans get pumped when a big game goes to overtime. As regulation expires, the broadcaster will excitedly announce, “We are going to overtime!” Fans are riveted to their seats since the outcome of the game hangs on every play.

We are going to have overtime in Annapolis. The legislature couldn’t get it done in regulation, also known as the “90-day session,” so we will have a least one extra period, maybe two.

Most fans here are not excited about this overtime, however.  There is not much suspense about it since the outcome of the game has already been decided. It will be painful to watch. As Mark Twain is reported to have said, “Hold on to your wallets, the Legislature is in session.” You will really need to hold on when it is a special session in the State of Maryland.

This one is all about a tax increase, or perhaps, increases.  The only suspense in this game is what kind of taxes and how much. It is probable that this has already been decided behind closed doors by Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Michael Busch and Gov. Martin O’Malley. The governor most likely has spent every extra minute, when not otherwise working on his 2016 presidential run, on the phones and counting noses. I doubt a special session would be called unless he was certain the votes were there for the tax increase.

Overtimes can be costly affairs. This one is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars a day just for the expenses. Too bad our state leaders were not able to do this during the regular session.  Did the governor spend so much time threatening and cajoling recalcitrant Democrats on the so-called gay marriage issue for several weeks that the budget was pushed to the back burner until it was too late to get the job finished?

Keep in mind that they are not going back to Annapolis in order to pass a budget. We already have a budget for next year. Liberals like to call it the “Doomsday Budget.” This so-called “Doomsday Budget” calls for spending $700 million more than last year. Only in a state like Maryland would an increase in spending be labeled “Doomsday.” My idea of “Doomsday” would be more along the lines of a 30 percent cut in spending.

Recently, in a letter to The Herald-Mail, the president of Frostburg State University called on our legislators to do their duty and support the tax increases. Some will struggle with the notion that we need to increase taxes on citizens making $40,000 or $50,000 a year, depending on what kind of tax is passed, in order to protect the six-figure salaries of college presidents and professors. 

College is an important option for many young people. But how valuable is it to the students? Some unfortunately view it as an opportunity to party for four years, adding billions to our student debt crisis, perhaps ending up without a job and becoming candidates to join the ranks of the Occupy Movement. 

The amount owed in the U.S. on outstanding student debt recently went over $1 trillion. Yes, that’s a trillion. It has even surpassed all the credit card debt in the nation. As much as a third of this is owed by students who have not or will not graduate. Are more subsidies for higher education a wise use of money? Our whole post-high school educational process is in need of some serious overhaul.

Democrats justify the tax increases the governor wants by extolling the virtues of our fine educational system and how much better the roads are in Maryland compared with bordering states. I guess Maryland really needs nice roads to accommodate the many retirees and small businesses packing their bags and driving to Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Sadly, the governor appears ready to help them on their way.

George Michael, who lives in Williamsport, is a former principal of Grace Academy. His email address is

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