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Schaefer takes aim at Levitan Governor defends tax reform plan


Gov. William Donald Schaefer used a ribbon-cuttin ceremony in Anne Arundel County yesterday to blast Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, for saying that the administration's bill to restructure Maryland's tax system is dead.

The governor said that killing the bill could cripple already strained programs that help mentally retarded children, patients kidney dialysis machines and the homeless.

"I'm not in the happiest mood because I read the paper today, and there was great joy by a senator who said the governor's bill is dead," said Mr. Schaefer, who has been depressed since last year's elections and who has felt unappreciated by the voters and unable to push his most sweeping programs through the legislature.

"He didn't hurt me one bit," the governor continued. "I have no mentally retarded child. I have no friend who is homeless. I don't have any of those.

"I live in a nice house. It's warm. I've got food. I'm taken care of fTC medically. So I can say I'm OK. And how proud [Senator Levitan] must be that he said the governor's bill is dead."

Mr. Levitan, chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation and a frequent Schaefer antagonist, said during a hearing Friday that the administration's proposal, which was recommended by the Linowes commission, was too complex for consideration this year -- a conclusion reached by many members of the General Assembly.

Yesterday, Mr. Levitan defended his statements and faulted the governor for trying to push the tax plan through before understanding its ramifications.

"I'm just stating the fact that there is no time to thoroughly examine the Linowes plan," he said.

"The governor's philosophy is do it now.

"Every time we use the do-it-now philosophy, we get into trouble."

Mr. Levitan cited cost overruns on light rail and the new stadium.

On Friday, Governor Schaefer testified in support of the Linowes proposal in the face of anti-tax protesters who taunted him with chants of "Recall! Recall!"

Yesterday, the governor drew an analogy between the budget situation and the completion of Route 10, which provides an alternate route from Route 100 to Ritchie Highway.

"Why hurry?" he asked. "Wouldn't it have been just as well to wait another year?

"What difference does it make that we relieve the traffic congestion this year? . . . Then I relate that to the mentally retarded.

"Why worry?"

Mr. Schaefer said he was despondent over Friday's events and continually said it was "not a happy, joyful day for me. But I'll go away and say, 'At least I proposed it.' I didn't get it passed, but I tried."

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