After Years, A Yea

Naysayer Delegate Votes For A Budget

April 03, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

When the General Assembly approved an $11.6 billion budget Monday night, Delegate Patrick C. Scannello was at odds with himself.

For 12 years, the Glen Burnie Democrat has opposed the annual state budget because he opposes state financing of abortions.

This year -- ironically, the same year the legislature passed a bill guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion -- the economic plight of the needy weighed more heavily on Scannello.

"There are so many pressing needs out there the way the economy is," he said. "There areso many people who need help. I wish the average taxpayer, the average citizen, could meet these people who need help. If they could meetthem and just shake their hands, I'm sure my constituents wouldn't mind one bit. It's pathetic, some sad situations. All races, all creeds. It's affecting everyone."

The budget -- which includes $95.4 million in new cigarette, snack food and capital gains taxes -- dividedthe county's 18 state lawmakers. It left many who had promised constituents during last fall's election that they would not raise taxes in a dilemma.

It also forced many like Scannello into unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory.

"This is the first time I've ever voted against a budget," said third-term Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Annapolis.

Known as the Senate's chief environmental advocate, Winegrad complained that his colleagues took $52 million earmarked for agricultural preservation and parkland acquisition to balance the budget.

"It will mean we won't be able to acquire sensitive lands in Anne Arundel County along the Patapsco, the Patuxent or the Severn," Winegrad said. "It means we won't be able to protect sensitive areas all over the state."

Winegrad, who also opposed the tax increases, said he would rather have seen cuts made in annual state aid to counties.

"There was a lot of things we could have done besides robbing Program Open Space," Winegrad said. "We didn't have to hold the local governments harmless. We all have to share the cuts."

In the House, whichapproved the tax package, 93-36, the county's 13 delegates divided neatly along party lines. With the exception of two county lawmakers who didn't vote, the Democrats supported the tax package; the Republicans opposed it.

Opposition in the Senate -- which adopted new taxes by a narrower 27-20 margin -- crossed party lines. Among Anne Arundel's five senators, only Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale, favored the tax package.

Several lawmakers complained that a joint Senate-Housepanel lumped each of the new taxes into a single bill. The panel also tied the new taxes directly to state aid to Baltimore and the 23 counties for schools, police and other government services.

"I almost voted no because, with the recession going on, I thought we shouldn't raise taxes," said Delegate Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park. "Then I thought, 'Well, if everyone voted against it, where would we get the money for education and to hold the property taxes down.' "

"My God, who the hell doesn't want the kids to have enough books?" asked Delegate Phillip Bissett, R-Mayo, who opposed the new taxes. "Now, it looks like (those who voted against the tax package) don't support schools. It's a terrible thing they did to us."

"They said, 'If you don't pass this, you'll be voting for an increase in local property taxes,' " said Delegate Elizabeth S. Smith, R-Davidsonville. "That's pure garbage."

Delegate Marsha Perry, D-Crofton, said she supported the 5 percent sales tax on cigarettes, but did not vote because she opposed the other taxes.

In particular, she does not like eliminating a capital gains tax credit for families earning $50,000 or more.

The tax credit "was billed as protection for the very rich," Perrysaid. "Well, I don't think people who make $50,000 are the super rich."

Delegate Charles W. "Stokes" Kolodziejski, D-Carvel Beach, said he wanted to vote against the tax bill, "but I was talking or something when the vote came up. I was against any new taxes."

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