Reading election returns can be a bit like reading tea leaves -- you just might find what you want to see. Legislators who staunchly maintained that last fall's elections registered clear opposition to any tax increases now find themselves supporting a tax package that will raise $95 million in additional revenues, some for this fiscal year. Chances are these same legislators will decide that the election returns didn't signal an absolute opposition to any tax increases, just opposition to unneeded taxes and wasteful spending.
And who can say that the state doesn't need additional revenue this year? With tax receipts plunging because of the recession, the issue is not whether to let the state raise more money for ever more ambitious projects, but whether to meet the Maryland's constitutional mandate to balance the budget without doing severe damage to essential government services. Even with the tax package agreed to by legislative leaders, state spending will be severely curtailed.