Thursday, April 24, 2008

Governor to MoCo: Build Your Own Schools! (Updated)

The Post is reporting that the O’Malley administration plans to allocate $46.3 million in school construction aid to Montgomery County, less than the $55 million he promised in last year’s special session. The amount of money in dispute is small. But the symbolic value of the Governor’s action is huge.

Simply put, the Governor needs Montgomery County. He needs our tax revenues. He needs our 32 votes in the legislature. He needs our votes and campaign contributions at election time. Without any of the above, his administration will fail.

But the county is not in terrible need of the Governor. No one remembers the last time the state had a governor from Montgomery County. (If you know, report it in the comments!) In administration after administration, Montgomery has received far, far less in tax dollars from the state than it has contributed. That has remained the case under Governors Ehrlich (who came from the Baltimore suburbs), Glendening (from Prince George’s), Schaefer (Baltimore City), Hughes (Eastern Shore), Mandel (Baltimore City) and possibly every other governor in the 20th Century. We would fare just as badly under another non-MoCo Democratic governor as we are under O’Malley – in truth, it would make little difference.

Our state legislators delivered tough, agonizing votes on taxes and slots in the special session for the good of the state, the good of the party and the good of Governor O’Malley. Many of them were pilloried for the tax hikes and the slots votes. Many of them are still getting hammered, one way or the other, about the millionaire tax. And as payment we are left to haggle over pennies.

For those who do not know us, we are a diverse lot in Montgomery County. Our ranks include entrepreneurs, tree huggers, union members, government employees, immigrants, the working poor and many, many more. But every single one of us agrees on one thing: WE DEMAND TO BE TREATED FAIRLY BY OUR STATE.

Governor, if you want an all-out torch-burning, pitchfork-waving revolt in this county, you are well on your way to getting one.

The Gazette is now carrying the story as well. When reading the two articles, it's important to keep in mind the sources of quotes from Montgomery County officials. County Executive Ike Leggett, County Council President Mike Knapp, Senators Rona Kramer, Rich Madaleno and Nancy King, Delegate Brian Feldman and MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast's Chief of Staff do not universally agree on many things, but they are all frustrated with the Governor. While few would dare say it in the way I did, I will bet that the vast majority of Montgomery County's politicians are saying privately what I said publicly.