Monday, June 08, 2009

Van Hollen's inconstant budget mood

I understand that Republicans have an issue they can use when it comes to the Democrats' willingness to sacrifice public safety. From reducing the number of sex offenders monitored with GPS to scrapping the state's truth in sentencing laws which will let drunk drivers and arsonists out of jail early, the Republicans have a winning issue.

However, putting Attorney General JB Van Hollen out there to complain about cuts to his department will only invite muddying of the issue. Van Hollen is complaining that cuts to his budget are politically motivated. He may have a case.

But Democrats are right to complain that Van Hollen has tried to have it both ways with the state Department of Justice's budget. When Van Hollen ran for election, he said asking for more money would not be the "conservative thing to do." Shortly after taking office Van Hollen asked for - and received - an immediate $7.7 million boost to his budget to tackle the backlog at the state crime lab. At the recent Defending the American Dream meeting of conservatives, Van Hollen bragged about giving back $1.2 million to the state.

Now the Democrats are cutting his budget again and Van Hollen is accused of making his staff lobby the legislature against the cuts. When the wind blows again, will Van Hollen suddenly find more money to give back to the state?