September 2, 2011

State Roundup, September 2, 2011

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BACK IN BLACK: Maryland finished the most recent budget year with nearly $1 billion in unspent funds, a surplus that was more than 50% higher than expected, mostly due to stronger-than-anticipated income tax receipts, reports Annie Linskey for the Sun. Gov. Martin O’Malley said the increase in revenues was “a sign of the recovery” that is “welcome.”

However, the surplus does not mean the state is out of economic peril. Comptroller Peter Franchot noted that the state missed estimates on corporate income and sales taxes by $92 million, reports Megan Poinski for MarylandReporter.com.

Aaron Davis of the Post reports that the news that Maryland ended its budget year solidly in the black touched off a feisty comparison from the governors of Maryland and Virginia, who have been sniping at each other across the Potomac.

Franchot made note that the unspent funds included a surplus of $344 million. He was on a construction tour of the new Sudlersville Middle School, accompanied by Queen Anne’s County official, reports M.J. Neuberger of the Easton Star Democrat.

LABORS LOVE LOST: As we head into the Labor Day weekend, a new rating is classifying Maryland as one of the 10 most pro-government union states in the country, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com. But that’s not a good thing, according to a Washington think tank that supports free markets and opposes organized labor.

ECONOMY VS. UNIONS: Even with Democratic allies in Government House, unions in Maryland are struggling because of the economy, reports Kevin James Shay of the Gazette.

CHAMBER TESTIFIES: Ron Wineholt, vice president of government affairs for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, went before the state Senate Budget & Taxation Committee to ask for stability in Maryland’s business tax laws as a signal to employers that the state is serious about attracting new jobs. Here’s a copy of his testimony. The item appears in the Chamber Action Network.

LESS POWER POSTURING: In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, reports The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach, most politicians have been spending their time with affected constituents and not attacking the power companies.

BUSCH IN POWER, WITHOUT IT: Speaker of the House Mike Busch called the Sun’s Jay Hancock, apropros of his earlier post on the possiblity of BGE giving priority to bigshots for power restoration, to say, tongue-in-cheek, that he got left off BGE’s secret list. Here’s Hancock’s earlier post.

RELIABILITY DELAY:  The Public Services Commission is delaying the release of a report on electrical reliability standards for two weeks because of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, reports The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

GANSLER AGAINST BACKPAGE: Finding several situations where adult ad site Backpage.com used escort services ads for sexual trafficking of minors, Attorney General Douglas Gansler and 45 other state attorneys general are asking the site to take down that section, reports The Gazette’s Danielle Gaines.

GET TO KNOW HIM: Harford County Executive David Craig, a potential Republican candidate for governor in 2014, is going out of his way to get to know some of the Maryland press corps, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

REDISTRICTING WITH COMMUNITIES: People attending redistricting hearings have a common request: Keep communities together, reports the Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.

REDRAWING ARUNDEL: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that redrawing the congressional district lines to divide Anne Arundel among fewer districts, or giving it a prayer of putting one of its own residents in Congress, may be at the tail end of the redistricting panel’s priority list.

GAZETTE NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s political reporters have tidbits this week about Sen. Jim Rosapepe’s preference for Wesley Clark, Ike Leggett’s campaign e-mail, Del. McDonough’s powerlessness, and @BalitmoreOEM.

SLOW VOTING IN BALTIMORE: Baltimore voters trickled into polling places for the first day of early voting in the citywide primary elections, prompting the director of the city elections board to describe turnout as “really bad.” By 5 p.m. yesterday, 994 of the city’s 369,651 registered voters had cast ballots, reports Julie Scharper for the Sun.

NO CONFERENCE CALLED: Emails apparently from Baltimore mayoral candidate Frank Conaway’s campaign called, then canceled a press conference yesterday — but Conaway says they didn’t come from him. He uses a Hotmail account for his correspondence but these came from a Gmail account, blogs Julie Scharper for the Sun.

BOTTLE TAX: The editorial board of the Sun takes on the beverage industry as it attempts to get the city’s 2-cent bottle tax repealed a year early.

AAA IN PG: Following up a Gazette story, Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that Prince George’s County has retained its AAA bond rating from three ratings houses that examine local government finances.

COUNCILMAN PROBED: The Annapolis Capital’s Eric Hartley writes that, while Daryl Jones was running for re-election last year, presenting himself as an accomplished Anne Arundel County councilman, he also was under criminal investigation. And there’s no provision in the County Charter for removing a councilman from office.

CUMMINGS ON NEPHEW: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said in an e-mail yesterday that a person is being questioned in the June 10 shooting death of his nephew, 20-year-old Christopher Cummings, according to an AP story in the Sun.