State Roundup June 11, 2010

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Lots of coverage of the race for governor, which a new poll shows is very tight; the GOP raises money as Mitt Romney comes to town. Plus taxes, pensions and delegate’s ‘sweetheart’ deal.

CAMPAIGN SPIN: Aaron Davis and John Wagner of the Washington Post take a close look at how Gov. Martin O’Malley and his rival, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, create unfavorable histories of each other’s fiscal policies.

GOP FUNDRAISER: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele urged 700 party faithful, “My friends, don’t screw this up.” He was referring to the November elections at a fundraiser that headlined former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and featured former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, the Post’s John Wagner reports.

MITT: Before keynoting Thursday night’s GOP fundraiser, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a once and possibly future candidate for president, stopped at an Arnold ball park where ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich was watching son Drew’s baseball game. “I’m just a scout for the Red Sox,” Romney joked, before endorsing Ehrlich’s re-election bid, Len Lazarick writes in

TIGHT RACE: A new Rasmussen poll shows Maryland gubernatorial rivals Martin O’Malley, the incumbent, and Bob Ehrlich, the former incumbent, tied at 45% each. Five hundred people were surveyed for the poll, Adam Pagnucco blogs in Maryland Politics Watch.

Barry Rascovar in his Gazette column takes a look at Ehrlich’s business proposals. In a Gazette op-ed, Laslo Boyd examines the difference between Ehrlich and O’Malley on higher education.

REDRAWING DISTRICTS: Whoever wins the Maryland gubernatorial election in November will have a strong influence over who runs and who wins elected office since he’ll get to shepherd through the redrawing of congressional and legislative district lines, so writes Douglas Tallman at

BUSINESS CLIMATE: The people who sell Maryland to the country and the world spent part of this week debating whether the Free State’s brand is competitive in today’s marketplace, Len Lazarick writes in On the plus side, Maryland has a “great quality of life” and a highly educated workforce, said economist Anirban Basu. On the downside, it has high taxes and a perceived bad attitude toward business.

Scott Dance in the Baltimore Business Journal looks at the record of O’Malley and Ehrlich on small business.

BARTLETT: Del. Joseph Bartlett had the state pay his girlfriend $30,000 over the last three years to put him up in her Annapolis home during during legislative sessions, Katherine Heerbrandt reports in the Gazette.

PENSIONS: The state is trying to recoup $73 million from its former actuary, Gary Haber reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

TOUR DE MARYLAND: State officials and cycling enthusiasts are trying to bring a seven-day bicycle race to Maryland in 2012 that could generate as much as $40 million in annual spending, reports Liz Farmer in the Daily Record.

TAPPING RESERVE FUND: Comptroller Peter Franchot says it would be unwise to raid a local income tax reserve fund if Congress does not approve an extension of Medicaid spending, rejecting a budget tactic backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and the General Assembly. Sean Sedam of the Gazette writes.

CONTRACT QUESTIONS: The Carroll County Board of Commissioners questions how agreements with contractors are handled after it was revealed that one firm will be the only subcontractor for the county’s Weatherization Assistance Program and could benefit from more than $800,000 in stimulus money. See Adam Bednar’s story in the Carroll County Times.

HEALTH CARE: Marylanders need better access to primary care doctors and more information about their medical choices, according to a group of doctors and nurses, insurance companies, and business groups advising the state about how to implement federal health care reform legislation. Erich Wagner has the story in

HEALTH INSURANCE: Fewer businesses are offering health insurance, Scott Graham reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

CITY TAXES: A Baltimore City Council committee backs $15 million in new taxes, announced a deal to raise $20 million more over six years, but delays action on a applying the energy tax to industries, writes Andrea K. Walker and Julie Scharper in the Sun.

PENSION PROTEST: Despite union protests, a Baltimore City Council committee unanimously backed a controversial bill to alter the pension plan for police and firefighters pension plan — and, officials say, avert a financial disaster for the city. Julie Scharper reports for the Baltimore Sun.

CASINO OPENING: The state’s first casino, being built in Cecil County, is set to open four weeks ahead of schedule, the owner of the parlor announced. Read Hanah Cho’s piece in the Sun.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: A Blue Ribbon panel of the Catholic Archdiocese has announced more than 50 recommendations to help curb dwindling enrollment, make education more consistent, more affordable and more accessible to children, reports both Liz Bowie in the Sun and WBAL-TV.

TAXES: Most counties have avoided property tax hikes for the coming year’s budget, but the same might not be true next year, Erin Cunningham writes in the Gazette.

RICE for COUNCIL: Del. Craig Rice plans on running for Montgomery County Council, according to Erin Cunningham in the Gazette.

GANSLER ON EPA: Attorney General Doug Gansler sees the federal Environmental Protection Agency as a partner in cleaning up the Chesapeake, Sean Sedam reports in thE Gazette.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette Reporters Notebook includes items on the very late Gov. Martin O’Malley, gubernatorial candidate George Owings and environmental endorsements.

GRADUATION RATES: The Montgomery County Public School system has the highest graduation rate of the 50 biggest school districts in the country. Baltimore County Public Schools come in No. 26, Anne Arundel County Schools rank No. 46. Adam Pagnucco posts in Maryland Politics Watch.

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