Delegate passes up private-sector job

Busch says legislating is about more than pay

June 21, 2000|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

State Del. Michael E. Busch made it official yesterday: He won't be giving up his seat in the General Assembly for a high-paying job heading a quasi-public agency that sells workers compensation insurance.

Busch, 53, had talked in recent weeks with officials at the Injured Workers Insurance Fund about becoming the agency's chief executive. The job would have paid him twice what he earns now, but he would have been required to give up his seat in the legislature.

The Anne Arundel Democrat, who has served in the house for 14 years and is seen as a possible successor to House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., said he has withdrawn as candidate for the IWIF position. It was a difficult decision, he said.

Being a delegate "is a part-time job," Busch noted. "I've got to pay the bills, and I have two young children. ... I went out flipping a coin for a while. Everybody had an opinion, saying, `You should stay. You should go.' "

He said legislative work offers rewards that "don't translate into dollars-and-cents terms." He said he enjoyed the job too much to give it up and felt he had an obligation to the voters who elected him.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, who attended Busch's news conference yesterday, said she was "just delighted."

"I was 99 percent certain that Mike was staying, but I had to come over here to be sure," Owens said. She said Busch plays a "pivotal role" in helping the county achieve its objectives in the legislature.

Busch makes about $45,000 a year as assistant to Anne Arundel County's recreation director and another $30,000 as a delegate. The insurance fund was paying its previous director, Paul L. Rose, $147,000 when he left in February.

Owens said the county is preparing to expand Busch's responsibility in the parks and recreation department.

By law, the county cannot offer him more than a 5 percent pay raise, she said. But he will be moving into a different pay grade, she said, qualifying him for further raises in the future.

Speaker Taylor also welcomed the news that Busch will stay.

While many think Busch would be a candidate to succeed Taylor as speaker at some point, Taylor said yesterday he has no plans to leave the post. "I do not intend to go anywhere. I'm very happy doing what I'm doing," he said.

Dennis McKew, chairman of the board that oversees the insurance fund, said the panel has been interviewing three other candidates and hopes to make a decision within the next 60 days.

As chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee for the past six years, Busch understands the intricacies of the insurance industry. He helped craft legislation this year that reorganized the insurance fund and made it subject to regulation by the state insurance commissioner.

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