It's a good thing I wasn't sipping my coffee when I saw this on the front page of the Baltimore Sun in Starbucks this afternoon.
"Checks, balances rule Md. capital: Democratic leaders split on key issues, how to raise money."
Reporter Andrew Green began his March 5 article by conceding that "in ways large and small, Annapolis is showing signs of a leftward tilt" ever since Gov. Martin O'Malley took the helm on the second floor of the State House. But relax, Green continued, competing egos in the state government ensure that the legislative track isn't laden with runaway trains.
Maybe so, but all the freight the Maryland General Assembly is steaming into the station is filled with liberal goodies:
Bills that would raise cigarette taxes to expand health care, impose a fee on new development to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and give state unions greater bargaining power are hardly a sure thing, even with a Democrats in control of the legislature. Tax increases - likely to be a major topic in Annapolis as lawmakers grapple with expected revenue shortfalls of more than $1 billion a year - have been suggested, but O'Malley has talked about trying first to make state government more cost-efficient.
Green's opaque reference to O'Malley's cost-cutting measures is a roundabout way of saying the former Baltimore mayor is holding off on tax increases. But O'Malley has only a slightly less liberal tack on taxes than Senate President Mike Miller, according to press accounts.
The Associated Press noted today that Miller wants to push through a 12-cent gas tax hike this year while O'Malley wants to hold off until next year. As Green himself reported in January, O'Malley anticipates the "need" to raise taxes in a year or two, he just doesn't want to do so during his first year in office.
Essentially Marylanders have a choice between steering hard left now or tacking left gradually, with the sharpest turns to be made in a year or two.
Some choice that is, but the Baltimore Sun has weighed it in the balance and not found it lacking.