I’m not a pessimist. No, really I’m not. I sincerely hope that 2015 will be a GREAT year for Maryland and for Wicomico County. While I HOPE that 2015 will be a great year, I’m a realist. I expect this year to be a good year, IF we can agree on a definition of “good”.
We still have a few weeks until Larry Hogan is sworn in as governor. Bob Culver, while starting off well, only has a few weeks under his belt as Wicomico’s County Executive. Both the state and county face significant fiscal challenges. Hogan and his team appear to be working around the clock to address severe revenue shortfalls for both the current and next fiscal years.
Starting with a mound of problems it is important that both Hogan and Culver be allowed the opportunity to address issues which they inherited. Voters, particularly Republican voters, should allow both the opportunity to succeed before calling either out for failing to fulfill their respective campaign promises. This is precisely why it is important that GOP activists and Republican-leaning bloggers need to manage expectations for 2015.
Monoblogue’s Michael Swartz believes that the County Council and Culver will be “working from the same political playbook”. That remains to be seen. Councilmen Ernie Davis (D-1), John Hall (R-4), John Cannon (R-At Large), and Matt Holloway (R-At Large) are all on record as wanting to fund a new West Salisbury Elementary School. The only reason Hall, Cannon, and Matt Holloway voted in favor of a bond resolution without funding for West Salisbury was because Culver had pledged to not sign such a resolution.
Swartz also notes that the chief impediments to an elected school board are now gone with the departures of former County Executive Rick Pollitt, former Del. Norm Conway, and former Del. Rudy Cane. That is true as far as it goes. However, there is no more vocal opponent of an elected school board (and particularly a fully elected board) than Cane’s replacement – Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-37A). While all of Wicomico’s incoming delegation may be freshmen, Sample-Hughes is the only House member from the majority party in Annapolis. Even more distressing is the County Council’s seeming lack of concern in asking Annapolis for a fully elected school board.
Most of the heavy lifting in Wicomico County will have to be done by Culver. This is by design. He controls the budget. Because so much of the state budget is comprised of mandatory spending, Hogan will have less control than Bob Ehrlich.
Both Hogan and Culver need to continue making their respective cases for decreases in spending. Maryland voters need to press their Senators and Delegates to cut spending. Only then will Hogan have the opportunity call for reducing taxes. Culver will need support to continue pressing for less spending. Even then, lowering tax rates will prove difficult.
Those of us who want to see a better, more competitive state and county need to manage our expectations. Neither Hogan nor Culver have magic wands to wave. They can succeed. We need to give them time to do just that. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It took Martin O’Malley eight years to put Maryland in its present condition.
photo courtesy of SBYNews