Delegation reacted wisely to budget presentation

January 31, 2013

Image isn’t everything — tone matters, too. There are times for soapboxes and times for restraint.

We have been critical of the Washington County legislative delegation in the past for seeming to pick a fight with the Democratic leadership in Annapolis on every issue and at every turn.

Whether or not the leadership deserved the scoldings is beside the point. The cold fact is that constant thorns in the side are repaid in kind.

That said, we believe the delegation deserves credit for its collective reaction to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s state budget presentation.

Any budget will have its shortcomings, and offer opportunities for criticism. But rather than seeking out and exploiting these shortcomings, local lawmakers this time chose a more statesmanlike approach and offered mostly positive commentary on the spending plan.

Here’s why that matters: It is difficult to lambast state spending and then turn around and ask for state money for local concerns. Members of the General Assembly notice this, and use it as an excuse to shortchange counties that do the most complaining.

With the City of Hagerstown, in particular, looking for state help, all elected players need to be on the same page, and it would be unwise at this point to bite the hand that can potentially feed. It is heartening to see that the delegation understands this and is softening its tone.

This doesn’t mean that representatives need give up their views. We don’t want them to. They have been elected on the basis of those views and they speak for the people who put them in office. And there are times when the minority in Annapolis needs to stand up to the majority to protect the rights of the people back home.

Posturing over the budget has not saved taxpayers a single dollar that we are aware of. However, at times, it has cost our county dollars aplenty. We applaud the delegation for steering a more productive course this time around.

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