In a perfect world, the no-new-taxes budget put forward by the Republican minority in the General Assembly would be a viable option. But the reality of American life in the 1990s cannot be ignored. The GOP plan seeks to do the impossible.
Republican delegates want to hold Maryland's spending to last year's level. That's a sound theoretical notion. It doesn't work in practice, though. The state's electric and heating bills, for instance, go up every year -- just like they do in the homes of most Marylanders. The higher bills must be paid. Many expenses are required by federal law or by the courts; there's nothing legislators in Annapolis can do to make these extra costs disappear.
So in many respects, Democratic legislators were correct when they termed the Republican budget alternative a "fairy tale." Freezing government spending at current levels can't realistically happen when prison and welfare populations are booming. Democrats are also accurate when they claim the GOP document is motivated primarily by politics. Republicans sense voter dismay with the Democrats' handling of the state fiscal crisis. They are positioning the minority party for the 1994 elections, when Maryland's anti-incumbent mood could turn into a pro-Republican landslide.