They just don’t get it – and they never will, so it seems.
As much as the intrepid Jake Weissmann, the formidable Alex...
A Miner Detail: The 2019 Annapolis Session Winners and Losers [EXCERPT]
April 12, 2019
The Capital: Our say: Dislike of Franchot no reason to rush big change to school funding
March 28, 2018
You can argue that sessions of the Maryland Board of Public Works too often devolve into the Larry and Pete Show, with Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot ripping into local officials and school administrators who have inexcusably failed to install air conditioning or take mold problems seriously enough.
But it doesn’t follow that it’s a good idea for the General Assembly, with virtually no hearings and in the waning days of an election-year session, to rush through a huge change in the way state government has operated for decades. And that change is likely to diminish visibility and accountability.
All this started in the House of Delegates as an amendment to a popular bill to modernize the school construction funding system. The amendment would take authority over state school construction funding away from the Board of Public Works, the powerful triumvirate — the members are the governor, the comptroller and the treasurer — that makes appropriations decisions a part-time legislature can’t handle.
Instead, the decisions would come from a new Interagency Commission with two appointees by the governor, two by the Senate president and two by the House speaker. In short, the Democratic legislative leadership would take the reins.
Two-thirds of the current members of the Board of Public Works — Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp — are Democrats. But Franchot is now usually Hogan’s ally, and his tendency to showboat has made him poisonously unpopular with many fellow Democrats. Hogan has a point in saying that the current bill seems to be a vendetta against the comptroller.
The bill has passed the House by a veto-proof margin. As this is written, Senate leaders have both feet on the accelerator. They want the measure slammed onto Hogan’s desk in time for the legislature to override the inevitable veto this year.
What then? Hogan will hit the campaign trail pointing to this as proof positive that Democrats are more concerned about partisanship than accountable and transparent government. Actually, this abrupt move looks like a sign that Democrats not only have no notion of blocking Franchot from a fourth term but are not hopeful about defeating the governor in November. They appear to be battening down the hatches for a Hogan second term, rather than thinking about what this would mean to some future Democratic governor.
Hogan and Franchot’s joint decision to meddle in the schedules of every school system in the state was stupid and counterproductive. We also dislike the Board of Public Works’ annual “begathons” for local officials.
But there is something to be said for having these funding decisions made out in the open by a panel on which two-thirds of the members are elected by all of the state’s voters. And there is little to be said for the way Democrats are rushing this measure.