Legislative Update - February 23, 201023-Feb-2010
February 23, 2010
I am writing to you this week to talk about the budget and the hearing I am sure you have all read about in the news. As a member of the Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Health and Human Resources Sub-Committee, I spend a great deal of time working on finding places to cut costs while preserving the services we need in our State.
This past Tuesday the budget committees from each house of the legislature invited the minority party to attend a special budget hearing where the caucuses of each chamber were asked to present ideas. I was excited that, even though members of each party sit on all committees and subcommittees, there would be a formal opportunity for the Republicans to voice their concerns and suggestions. As someone who has broken with my party many times on votes and budgetary issues I like the idea of open dialogue between the parties, I am sure all of you feel the same way.
I was really disappointed, and frankly disgusted, to read things in the papers from my Senate colleagues that indicated they would rather not attend. One Senator from our area was quoted as saying ‘This is a pure and simple political sideshow.’ That is not how the members of the budget committees saw it and we were all disappointed when very few Senators attended. I am proud that the House Delegations from both Harford and Cecil counties had a presence at the meeting and it should be noted that the House Republican Caucus did show up and provide suggestions and a well thought out presentation. However, when the chairs called Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman and Minority Whip Nancy Jacobs to the table for presentations they simply were not in the room.
A letter to the editor in The Aegis summed up my feelings well, “when they [Andy Harris and Nancy Jacobs] have the opportunity to actually sit down with fellow legislators and make detailed suggestions for reducing the state budget they walk away” and this in my view, does not help anyone. I was excited for the opportunity to work out this budgetary mess with the input of others and when the Senators from our communities shut down the idea it was just disappointing. I try to work with the other legislators here in Annapolis to work for the people back home but when our own local Senators refuse to come to the table it is made difficult. An editorial in a paper from Western Maryland said the following that I could not agree more with;
“Has the notion of compromise become so tainted that our lawmakers believe the very mention of it will condemn them to the political graveyard? Back in the days of Senator John A. Cade, the minority leader who carried weigh literally and figuratively, and Delegate Bobby Neall, both men of conviction—the minority and majority parties came together to do what was best for their constituents. That was when “One Maryland” wasn’t a trite campaign motto, but an actual fact.”
Those men, Senator Cade and Delegate Neall, served with my father and the “One Maryland” the quote references is the Maryland I grew up with. I want a return to that for the sake of all of you and in this case, the sake of our economy. I am reaching out to all of you for input and to make cataloging your views simpler, I will once again provide a survey in this email. I have enjoyed reading all of the responses and seeing the votes on my other surveys and I am sure in this instance it will be no different. You can find the survey by clicking here.
A famous quote by John Quincy Adams seems appropriate “An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied.” It is time to act, now more than ever and I want you to know that I am working tirelessly on the budget and my legislation to improve the quality of life in our communities.
I just want to make sure that you know what is going on here in Annapolis. It is important to contact your legislators on both sides of the aisle and tell them how you feel. Please fill out the survey and share your views with me.