Having hewed to his campaign pledge of no new taxes in this year's spending plan, Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker is now taking the inevitable drubbing from factions that didn't get what they wanted. Welcome to the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't world of recessionary politics. His proposal doesn't raise taxes or cut services. It gives most county workers a 2 percent longevity pay raise, provides for new police officers and libraries and advances Howard's recycling effort.
The Howard County Education Association wants more. That includes restoring the $3.5 million slashed from the school budget request and granting cost-of-living increases. The teachers' union points to 1990 census numbers showing that Howard boasts the highest median income in the state. "Howard County is wealthy enough to give the people who serve it cost of living increases," said union president James R. Swab. "What we had hoped for in Chuck Ecker's budget was a bi-partisan effort to give county and school employees cost of living increases. Unfortunately politics is being played again."