There were, indeed, a great many Marylanders who were relieved when the General Assembly rejected the governor's appeal to pass an $800 million tax reform package -- voters who had made clear in November's election that they were sick of "big" government, and wanted lawmakers to cut the fat.
But if the General Assembly responded to what it perceived to be the will of the people, Governor Schaefer was of another mind -- the rejection of the Linowes tax reform program was, he thought, a personal assault. And so the acrimony escalated -- with blow after perilous legislative blow struck by lawmakers who succeeded not merely in dismantling the pillars of Schaefer's agenda but in enacting, in turn, one of their own.
With the exception of passing an abortion-rights bill early in the session, the 90 days became an intricate, personal interplay that accomplished very little. Among the casualties were gun control, growth control and transportation -- all of which most certainly will have long-term implications for the quality of life in this state. So too the budget; lawmakers opted for a finger-in-the-dike strategy for the state's deepening revenue shortfall -- increasing taxes on cigarettes and carry-out food and closing a loophole on capital gains to balance the budget. This approach may have won lawmakers kudos from an electorate that is lumbering under the weight of the recession. But it shelves, rather than solves, the state's long-term budget problems.