Somebody's GOP-compulsive idea of a lean, mean state government left us nearly defenseless when real crisis came along. Meet the crisis's chief enabler, the Guv.
And shake your head about the way dark and not-so-dark money is distorting some of our most competitive Maryland races. News you can Use.
State government “hollowed out” in Hogan era, study says.
How does a well-designed state government fight its way through a pandemic, an unemployment crisis and other mortal perils in the early 2020s? Generally, by staffing up the state government with enough employees to meet the crisis. Well, crisis, meet Gov. Larry Hogan, who has kept his GOP dogma infused into his two-term management of state agencies with (often openly expressed) disdain for public employees, especially those in unions. For the GOP, and hence for the inexplicably popular Hogan, public employees should be kept sparse and under-supported to get the best out of them. Now the public sector has responded with a damning assessment. . (Maryland Matters)
Maryland state agencies are awash in vacancies, losing seasoned workers and struggling to perform core functions, according to union leaders, members of the General Assembly and Attorney General Brian Frosh
Critics maintain that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) has been at best indifferent to the hollowing out of state government and at worst has precipitated the loss in personnel by failing to offer more competitive salaries and benefits.
“Our state government is grotesquely underfunded now,” said Frosh (D) in an interview. “If there’s a Democratic governor who’s elected [in November] who values government services, that person will find that we’re really hamstrung.”
Based on an analysis by the nonpartisan state Department of Legislative Services, “More than 6,000 positions — one-eighth of the government — is unstaffed. “That’s more than there have ever been in our records,” legislative analyst Jason Kramer said. “Vacancy rates are high across state government.”
Those who still wonder how the state’s unemployment insurance system could have performed so poorly during the height of the pandemic lockdown might consider this trend among the reasons.
Dirty Tricks and Dark Money, or “Dirty Deeds don’t come cheap”
It’s money time at the MD corral, another reminder of how much more money there could be for wise governance to spend on human needs – if getting people elected didn’t cost so veryvery much. Public financing of elections, anyone?
In the PG county-centered 4th Congressional District, national groups have “essentially hijacked” the race between former Congresswoman Donna Edwards and former PG county state’s attorney Glen Ivey, as Maryland Matters observes. “Ivey is the beneficiary of a massive infusion of outside spending, most of it — more than $4 million as of Thursday — from a single organization, the United Democracy Project (UDP). The group, which is affiliated with the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, vigorously opposes Edwards because of votes she cast during her tenure in the House. While some of the group’s ads speak favorably of Ivey, most of UDP’s spending has been used to attack Edwards, according to the campaign-tracking organization Open Secrets.”
MoCo exec race
Three different polls show varying proportions in the essentially three-way race for the Democratic primary nod for Montgomery County Executive, Maryland Matters notes. And the Seventh State blog reports that the poll showing David Blair (who commissioned the poll) catching up on the front-running incumbent Marc Elrich was what is often called a “push poll” in which poll respondents first get favorable information about one candidate (or unfavorable info about an opponent) and then are asked which way they are leaning. “… after all this priming designed to drive Blair’s numbers up and Elrich and [Councilmember Hans] Riemer’s down, Blair still trailed Elrich,” said the blog. As Maryland Matters has also highlighted, a developer-funded PAC spuriously and redundantly misnamed “Progressives for Progress is “really a bunch of developers” who want to see the local Interstates turned into toll-lane bonanzas for more sprawl.
The Washington Post has been rolling out endorsements for statewide and nearby county-level contests for weeks and the picture is typical of the WaPo’s biases: unions bad, development good. Though the overall endorsements from the monopolist news outlet sometimes surprise, the general trend reflects the paper’s long-term loathing of public employee unions (especially teachers) and shock that any candidate would prefer more mass transit and managed housing versus untrammeled road building and the real estate bonanza that follows. Not leaving anything to chance, the billionaire Blair has dumped just short of $2 million more from his personal pocket-money to help him in the homestretch, as we hear from Bethesda Beat.
Who does Progressive Maryland favor in state races from top to bottom? Nothing dark about our very transparently progressive choices -- find them here.
Some Fed notes as Congress trickles back to work
A note from Politico Playbook: EMERGENCY NOT RULED OUT — Biden told reporters Sunday that, contra to some reporting last week, he’s looking into the possibility of declaring a public health emergency to protect abortion access post-Roe v. Wade. The president said he’d asked staff to investigate whether he’d have the authority to do so. More from Forbes
Playbook also reports that Dem leader Schumer and Dem roadblock Manchin are closing in on a much-reduced reconciliation bill that seems likely to include prescription price cuts or caps and some high-earner tax increases to beef up the Medicare trust fund. More? Looks like a tough slog for refunding ACA subsidies or getting climate action.
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