In late March, the Maryland House of Delegates moved to eliminate one of their treasured perks, the state legislative scholarships, in order to help trim the beleaguered state budget. According to this story in The Sun, the delegates “suggested taking an $11.5 million fund for scholarships that legislators dole out on their own, and giving it to the higher education system.”
I thought this was a real act of political courage. Giving away our tax money at their individual discretion is a nice little perk for our elected representatives. It can’t hurt their name recognition at election time. While many voters may be in the dark about their legislators’ positions on the big issues of the day they aren’t likely to forget a giveaway to their kids or grandkids.
Personally, I’ve always had a problem with this perk and I heartily applauded the move to eliminate it.
My applause was a bit premature.
It turns out that our state senators were not pleased with this initiative by their brethren in the House. The senators retaliated by threatening to freeze all new bond issues like the one proposed for Symphony Woods until 2013. This is an even bigger perk and the threat to eliminate it was enough to convince the delegates to back off on the scholarship shenanigans.
“Senators wanted to eliminate a $15 million pool of money for pet projects that they borrow each year through bond issues. Both programs are frequent subjects of criticism. But ultimately, both the scholarship fund and the bond-bill projects stayed in the budget.”
It looks like another year of politics as usual in Annapolis. Nice going boys and girls, you just showed your true stripes.
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