Saturday, May 31, 2008

What Might Have Been...

When Senator Patrick J. Hogan (D-39) of Montgomery County stepped down last year, he changed history. We are only now beginning to realize the magnitude of that decision.

Senator Hogan was Vice-Chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Senator Ulysses Currie (D-25) of Prince George's County was the Chairman, so Hogan was next in line. When Hogan retired, a prominent Rockville politician told me, "It's devastating to lose P.J. We are going to get screwed." Shortly afterwards, the Special Session passed an income tax hike that relied disproportionately on revenue from Montgomery County because of its progressive nature. An even greater targeting of Montgomery County taxpayers was the reason much of the county's state delegation fought bitterly, and ultimately unsuccessfully, against the millionaire tax.

Hogan's departure resulted in the promotion of Senator Edward Kasemeyer (D-12) to the Vice Chairman position. Longtime Montgomery County Delegate Marilyn Goldwater (D-16) left around the same time, prompting this observation from the Gazette:

The leadership changes leave Montgomery, the state’s largest jurisdiction, with a single committee chairman in each chamber and House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville. Baltimore city boasts three chairmen, three vice chairmen and the majority whips in each chamber; Prince George’s County has three chairmen and one vice chairman in the General Assembly.
Montgomery County's committee chairs include the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (held by District 16 Senator Brian Frosh) and the House Ways and Means Committee (held by District 20 Delegate Sheila Hixson).

Senator Currie appears to be in some trouble. If he falls, Kasemeyer, who represents Baltimore and Howard Counties, will be in line to become the next Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman. That is good news for a Governor who is targeting swing areas in Baltimore County for his re-election. But it is bad news for Montgomery County. With a Chairman Hogan, Montgomery would have been better able to resist humiliations like this. Instead, the county's politicians will be left to ponder what might have been.

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