Legislative leaders on Friday complained that the grounds of Maryland's historic State House aren't maintained — while the governor's mansion across the street is well-manicured.
Speaking at a meeting of the State House Trust, of which he is a member, House Speaker Michael E. Busch said that bushes aren't being trimmed, weeds aren't being pulled, the lawn isn't being maintained and leaves aren't being removed. He called it "embarrassing."
"I've never seen the State House grounds looking as shabby as they look today," the Anne Arundel County Democrat said. He called the conditions the worst he's seen in 30 years as a legislator. "It looks like my front yard."
The speaker contrasted the appearance of Maryland's capitol with the governor's mansion. Since Republican Gov. Larry Hogan took office, Busch said Government House has taken on a noticeably brighter appearance, with colorful flower beds that change with the seasons.
"I'm all for what they're doing at the governor's mansion. It looks great," Busch said. By contrast, he said, maintenance of the grounds of the State House "shows a lack of pride in our state."
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a fellow Democrat and another member of the trust, said he agreed with the speaker.
Busch's criticism appeared to surprise Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who chairs the trust as Hogan's representative. Rutherford, a Republican, suggested that any maintenance problems could be the result of budget constraints at the Department of General Services, which has that responsibility.
Nelson Reichart, deputy secretary of the department, told the trust members that funds to take care of the State House would be put in the budget. Reichart did not dispute Busch's criticism.
Maryland's State House is the oldest in the nation in continuous use by a legislature. Construction began in the years before the American Revolution, and the building served as the temporary national capital in 1783-1784. It was in the old part of the building that George Washington resigned his commission as general of the Continental Army in 1783 and returned to private life.