I find it interesting that Del. Rick Weldon closed his most recent commentary (January 20, 2004) citing a Washington Post poll extolling the popularity of Gov. Robert Ehrlich. The poll I found more interesting was one recently compiled by The Baltimore Sun (Jan. 11, 2004) which showed that the governor's slots not taxes or else policy is in sharp disagreement with a majority of Maryland's residents.
The Sun poll showed that Maryland residents, including 52% of Republicans and 56% of those who would vote for the governor in '06, would favor a 1 penny increase in the sales tax to pay for the Bridge to Excellence (a.k.a., Thornton Commission) funding. The poll also showed that the #1 priority of Maryland residents is education -ergo the funding of education.
While the poll did show that Marylanders favored slots, they did not want to see them used as a bail out of the horse racing industry and it was not favored as much as a sales tax increase or a temporary increase of the income tax on Marylanders making more than $100,000 per year.
The poll also showed strong numbers for program cuts (34%) as the only solution to solve the current budget problems which was similar to a 36% for tax hikes as the sole solution. If push came to shove, either side could easily find enough of a majority and still keep in tack most of its solution by joining with the 20% who take the middle of the road position of doing both. On this case the group opting for more taxes would be able to make a stronger case considering the current climate.
It is time for the ideologues of the Republican Party in Maryland, especially here in Frederick County, to realize that Maryland is still a heavily Democratic state and that they, along with Governor Ehrlich, should take up the Frederick New-Post's ("by no means a 'Democratic' mouthpiece") editorial call to take up the lost art of compromise. If we are ever going to move this state forward, we cannot afford continuous train wrecks in Annapolis.
I want to close by wishing Delegate Weldon all the best this session. I have found his reports from the General Assembly to be interesting, educational and, at times, humorous, and I look forward to them throughout this session.
I will also say that I find Delegate Weldon's willingness to listen and discuss complicated problems to seek common ground solutions as a refreshing difference from the closed minded stances of other members of the Frederick delegation. He has an occasional lapse into ideology, like citing the aforementioned Washington Post poll, but for the most part he is an example that the Governor and most the rest of the Republican Caucus could learn from.