Governor's power grab unacceptable

Wrong remedy: The Board of Public Works' authority must not be eroded

April 08, 2000

IT'S CALLED checks and balances.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening -- any governor, for that matter -- shouldn't be able to hand out big pay raises to high-ranking members of his administration without approval from the Board of Public Works.

The system "ain't broke, and don't need fixing," to re-state a commonly observed rule in Annapolis.

So, a House of Delegates-passed bill that would remove that required approval makes no sense.

The Board of Public Works' safeguard is so entirely in the public interest that one wonders why a governor so often called a man of policy would propose its eradication. Maryland governors already have tremendous power. Neither Mr. Glendening nor those who will follow him need this additional dollop of control.

Still, the Senate is likely today to ill-considered administration shenanigan. Senators instead should step on this legislative snake as soon as possible.

Mr. Glendening is understandably piqued at the obstacles posed by Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon. But their jobs are to oppose the governor if they feel he is wrong.

The governor's effort to make the process easier for him was attached to a bill that provides other fixes that are needed in the employee pay system. But the offending provision, attached by amendment, could be stripped off before the final vote.

House members voted to pass the measure by 137-2 -- not fully aware of its impact, according to House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. Some State House veterans refer to bills whose full impact is carefully guarded as "snakes." They are a version of the legislative and political game that often emerges in late stages of a General Assembly session -- a point now at hand in Annapolis.

What the House has done, the Senate can and should undo.

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