Mike Preston's report card in Week 3
The Baltimore Sun

Maryland budget crunch? Frank Conaway's got a plan

Based on many of your comments to the earlier posts about state employee furloughs, there may be some popular support for City Circuit Clerk Frank M. Conaway's plan for saving government money: Stop paying elected officials so much. He just sent out a news release calling on "all elected and appointed offficials in every branch of government in Maryland to voluntarily give back a portion of their paycheck."

"All elected officials are drinking out of the public trough, and in these difficult times, elected officials should lead the way in showing that the burden of sacrifice falls first on those with the greatest responsibility.

"I call on all elected and appointed officials, regardless of their positions, to plant themselves at the forefront of this action. Furthermore, I hope to find a way for any contributions made by Maryland taxpayers to be a tax deduction."

If state lawmakers accepted Conaway's challenge, most would give up about $700 (based on a $43,500 annual salary and 250 yearly workdays; although some hard-cores could argue for a $1,900 give-back if they assume that part-time lawmakers are compensated for the 90-day Assembly session and nothing more).

Given the public anxiety over the economic situation (and the general call for the heads of corporate execs who take bailouts and then go on corporate retreats and such), it's surprising that we're not seeing more populism of this sort from elected offcials, particularly from Republicans. I'm kind of shocked that my prediction from yesterday that the Maryland GOP would be blasting us with press releases about the juxtaposition of buying state preservation land and pursuing employee furloughs at the same time has not come true.

In fact, the only word we've heard from the state Repbulican party today was a fund-raising appeal from Chairman Jim Pelura who wants to make sure you keep the GOP in your holiday gift-giving plans.

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