While there are still many conservative Democratic voters, elected conservative Democrats becoming an extinct species

Letter to the Editor, Southern Maryland Enterprise, April 20, 2011

Throughout last year's local election, the Democrats in our delegation of state legislators were continually labeling themselves as "conservative Democrats" and describing their positions and records as having voted against spending bills, tax increases and business regulations.

Those labels play well to voters during election cycles; people like to think there is bipartisanship in government. Plus, here in Southern Maryland, the "conservative" label appeals to both Republican and independent voters, while running as a Democrat secures the support of the more liberal voters.

With the local papers sugarcoating the headlines and not covering the details of many bills passed in Annapolis, our representatives can and have been able to have their cake and can eat it, too.

But, perception differs from reality. The fact is the 2012 State Budget (HB70) was voted for by every Democrat in our local delegation, including Del. John Bohanan (D-St. Mary's) and Del. John F. Wood Jr. (D-St. Mary's, Calvert), who voted in favor of the bill both in their seats on the appropriations committee and again on the House floor. This budget has $34 billion in spending and is nearly a billion dollars more than the year prior. In a separate financing bill (HB72) our Democratic delegation voted for doubling the fees for land records, vanity tags, titling for motor vehicles and birth certificates. Yes, with the help of our elected conservative Democrats it will now cost you double for being born in the state of Maryland.

To add insult to injury, in yet another bill (HB71), again all members of the Southern Maryland Democratic delegation voted to increase Maryland's debt another $925 million. But perhaps, the greatest misuse of funds our "conservative Democrats" voted for is requiring an increase in contributions by teacher to their retirement pension. While the increased contribution rate for the teachers' pension is most likely justified, the legislature diverted $120 million from the pension system to the General Fund to plug other budget holes. This is essentially an additional tax on public school teachers.

Despite the campaign promises to be fiscally conservative, to look at every state agency and expenditure for cuts, and to avoid raising the burden on taxpayers that simply did not happen. So, while citizens are being burdened with $67 million n new fees, or as Del. Wood would call them "new sources of revenue," plus a 50 percent increase in the sales tax on alcohol, illegal aliens can now get in-state tuition rates. Something seems wrong here.

Sure, our representatives will tell us that they fought hard for Southern Maryland, but the sad fact is that they didn't produce the results we need to turn Maryland around socially and economically. This spend, spend, spend philosophy is not conservative and the diverting money from one fund to another seems like more of an attempt to buy votes in future elections than it does to help businesses create jobs or provide any relief to the workers of this area. In short, they were ineffective.

While in our area, I believe there are still many conservative Democratic voters, elected conservative Democratic politicians are an extinct species.

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