- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday said he is eager to find out what Gov. Parris N. Glendening can do to reduce Maryland's ever-increasing budget deficit.

"I want to see what the governor has to say, want to see what he can do in the short term," Mr. Ehrlich said during a news conference at the State House to announce the executive council of his transition team.

Newly released revenue estimates place this year's deficit at $600 million, about $200 million more than had been estimated, and next year's expected deficit at $2 billion, about $300 million more than previously estimated.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said the new budget figures are no surprise.

"What we suspected would be reality is reality," said Mr. Ehrlich, who takes office in January.

As recently as Thursday, Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, was proposing new spending amid the worsening budget shortfall. He issued an executive order mandating a $4 billion program to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay from sewage-treatment plants.

It would be up to Mr. Glendening's successor, Mr. Ehrlich, to implement the plan and find money to pay for it. The executive order is not binding on the new governor, and he can rescind it.

Mr. Ehrlich yesterday said the revised budget estimates had not altered his campaign pledge to not raise state income or sales taxes.

"Those principles are not a function of short-term political calculations," he said. "We already have a highly taxed state. The economy is not good. The last thing we want to do is look at raising taxes."

A study commission on state revenues is considering a wide range of options, including increasing taxes on income, consumer goods, gasoline, cigarettes and alcohol.

Mr. Ehrlich said he is eager to talk to Mr. Glendening about the budget deficit this weekend in Austin, Texas, where they will attend a National Governors Association meeting.

Glendening spokesman Charles Porcari said the governor will not make any decisions on spending cuts after the talks with Mr. Ehrlich until he returns to Maryland and discusses proposals with Cabinet secretaries.

In yesterday's news conference, Mr. Ehrlich announced his transition team's six-member executive council, which includes Democrats, former elected officials, business executives and academics. They will be top advisers to Lt. Gov.-elect Michael S. Steele, who is leading the transition team, and former Glendening Cabinet Secretary James T. Brady, who runs the day-to-day transition duties.

The executive council will oversee 50 to 70 transition workers, who will prepare the new administration for budget negotiations, legislation in the General Assembly and upcoming executive appointments.

The executive council includes:

•Former Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, a Baltimore County Democrat and longtime figure in state government.

•Prince George's County venture capitalist Gary Murray, another Democrat and close adviser to Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry. Mr. Murray owns the Landover-based HumanVision LLC, a venture-capitalist firm dedicated to high-technology enterprises. He will offer expertise in business, economic development and education.

•Jennie Hunter-Cevera, a 20-year veteran of California's biotech industry and president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. A registered Republican and resident of Howard County, Mrs. Hunter-Cevera moved to Maryland three years ago.

•Jervis Finney, a partner at Mr. Ehrlich's law firm of Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver.

Mr. Ehrlich described the former U.S. attorney under President Ford as a "confidant and friend." He is a Republican and lives in Stevenson in Baltimore County.

•Former state Sen. Marty Madden, a longtime politician and president of the court-reform group Maryland Criminal Justice Institute. The Howard County Republican was instrumental in crafting Maryland's welfare-reform policies. Mr. Ehrlich characterized him as an "old friend" and the "fiscal expert adviser" to his campaign for governor.

•Susan Schwab, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs and former deputy commerce secretary under former President George H.W. Bush. A registered Republican and Annapolis resident, Ms. Schwab formerly served as director of corporate business development for Motorola.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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