Mitchell pushes reorganization Schaefer resists

January 27, 1993|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

When it comes to governmental reorganization, the do-it-now governor wants to do it later.

At the first hearing on one of the reorganization plans advanced by House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., aides to Gov. William Donald Schaefer responded with the threat of a veto and a counterproposal that would delay action on such restructuring until a new governor is sworn in.

"I never like to talk about vetoes during the legislative session," said David R. Iannucci, the governor's chief legislative aide, when asked about that possibility at a House Appropriations Committee hearing. "But I will say that the governor is strongly opposed to this legislation."

That was about the strongest rhetoric heard in a decidedly polite hearing in which committee members were deferential to their speaker -- as were the governor's representatives, who were testifying against the bill of someone who is usually a powerful ally.

Under discussion was the proposal by Speaker Mitchell, a Kent County Democrat, that would instruct the administration to come up with a plan for combining the Departments of Budget and Fiscal Planning, General Services and Personnel and the Office of Planning into a new department called Budgetary and Technological Development.

It is one of three bills Mr. Mitchell has proposed that call for significant structural changes, which he sees as necessary to address the state's fiscal constraints in a way that is permanent, not stopgap.

The others would combine the Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture into the Department of Land and Water Resources and consolidate the Natural Resources Police with the State Police under the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

All three of the bills give fairly specific instructions as to what should happen -- including a target of 20 percent in savings -- but then ask the administration to come up with a plan as to how that would happen. The plan would be submitted by Nov. 1., considered during next year's legislative session and, in theory, become law in July 1994.

"I would just ask you to consider this as an opportunity to get a plan back from the administration as to how they would like to reorganize," Mr. Mitchell told his House colleagues at yesterday's hearing.

"We leave it absolutely open for the executive branch to come back in November as to how they would like to reorganize. We're not telling them what to do or how to do it. If there's something we don't like about it, we can change it. And then it would become law."

But the flexibility in Mr. Mitchell's proposals was not enough for the governor. The speaker was followed by Mr. Iannucci and Paul Schurick, the governor's chief of staff, who proposed the creation of a commission to study the reorganization question.

Mr. Iannucci reiterated the governor's position that reorganization should await the new governor who will take office in 1995, indicating that any action taken before then might be undone by the next administration.

He said Governor Schaefer's many changes in the executive branch show that he is not averse to reorganization, but that it should be done comprehensively, with the commission recommending measures that take into account the changes in population and in the roles of local and state government.

"We would see this commission reporting late in the summer of 1994 and its ideas becoming part of the debate of that fall's campaign with the new legislature and governor implementing them when they take office in 1995," Mr. Iannucci said.

But committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings said that many legislators want to go into that 1994 campaign having already done something about reorganization.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.