Crafting a budget acceptable to the governor and two houses of the legislature is always an accomplishment. But with state revenues plunging, the budget process has cast a longer shadow than usual over this year's General Assembly session. In a sluggish economy, a stripped-down budget is inevitable -- even desirable. But instead of embracing broad visions like those embodied in the Linowes proposal, this legislature will be remembered for just saying no -- not merely to spending for ambitious new projects but also to transportation tax measures necessary to keep up the state's infrastructure and tax reform to maintain the level of services and bolster prospects for a prosperous future. Thus, while $10 million in additional aid for Baltimore city is welcome news, it doesn't cover even one-fifth of the city's shortfall, and it does very little to address the long-term problems -- education, housing and the like -- which are rapidly spilling over the city's boundaries into adjacent jurisdictions.
In their determination to respond to what they see as the voters' dislike of new taxes, legislators run the risk of angering their constituents by undercutting the quality of services that Marylanders have come to expect -- and that have helped to make this one of the nation's more prosperous and forward-looking states.