ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer is trying to make state legislators who want capital projects built in their districts to say so.
For about a month, Mr. Schaefer has been sending letters to General Assembly members telling them that money for specific projects in their districts is about to be released, and all they have to do is write him a letter verifying their support for the projects.
Mr. Schaefer has complained for years that many legislators publicly oppose raising taxes, or cutting the budget, but then privately ask him for help for projects or programs in their districts.
In this case, said assistant press secretary Page Boinest, Mr. Schaefer is merely trying to keep legislators "informed about what's going on in their district."
"It can be as short as one sentence," she added. "He just wants them on record."
But legislative leaders think the governor is trying to make lawmakers beg. They call it intimidation, and say they are not amused.
In appearances before various House committees yesterday, Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, and Appropriations Chairman Charles J. Ryan Jr., D-Prince George's, urged lawmakers to forward any such letters to them.
"We'd prefer to deal with this as an institution-to-institution problem rather than you people being picked off one at a time," said Delegate Ryan. "I don't want you to feel pressured, intimidated or whatever."
Ms. Boinest said that while the governor, as chairman of the three-member Board of Public Works, shares in the power to award or withhold state contracts, "That doesn't seem to be the aim or the point here. We're in an unusual budget period," she said.
House leaders said they have not yet devised a response, but that they are working on one.