Md. lawmakers get second chance

May 10, 2012

When lawmakers convene in Annapolis for a special session Monday, it will be ostensibly to work out state budget matters, but more, it will be a living history lesson in what happens when lawmakers fail to do the job they are elected to do.

Let’s be clear: This is not the federal government, where one house is staunchly Democratic, the other staunchly Republican.

In Annapolis, the State House is controlled by Democrats through and through. It’s disagreeable when two different parties fail to come to a meeting of the minds, but incomprehensible when one party cannot agree within itself.

The state has a budget in place, but it is the favored budget of no one in power. The budget the majority meant to pass (but failed to on time) included a tax hike, in one form or another, on the wealthiest wage earners and some other financial tricks of the trade that, for better or worse, will negate some of the existing budget’s more unpalatable cuts.

At this point, it is past the time to point fingers at one particular state leader or another. Nor is there much use debating the merits of the budget they intend to pass. It appears that the skids have been greased beyond the point where the train can be stopped.

It is small comfort, very small, that the General Assembly has at least refrained from making this a 2012 Session redux; there’s no talk of acting on any other suggested legislative issue, be it pit bosses or pit bulls.

Still, if the session lasts a day, it will have been one day too long. We say this from a cost standpoint, but more importantly from the standpoint of competent governance.

Democrats might believe they have a chokehold on the state electorate, and maybe they do. But it is hard to think that voters aren’t keeping track of each hiccup, and won’t one day become fed up — if not with the Democratic Party altogether — with the tired old Democratic establishment that has remained lodged in Annapolis like a sesame seed in the teeth for time immemorial.

The old guard tests our patience at its own risk, because at some point the voters will demand new blood.

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