Ehrlich on transit, film and fighting
Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s visit yesterday to Gov. Martin O'Malley's home county of Montgomery was notable for reasons other than the two candidates' temporary territory swap.
At a small-business round table in Rockville, Ehrlich, a Republican who preceded the Democratic governor, offered previews of how he would approach several issues if elected this fall:
* Light rail transit. Not a fan.
Ehrlich promoted his administration's plans for rapid transit buses in place of the "Purple Line" light rail O'Malley wants through Montgomery County.
"We have to be honest with people," Ehrlich told reporters after the round table. "The dollars aren't there. Money needs to be spent to fix what's broken now." He was referring to MARC and DC Metro. "MARC needs dollars. There just are not a lot of people riding light rail." He said he would be "open-minded" on an alternative to the Red Line in Baltimore.
Mike Dresser has other thoughts in his blog posting.
* ICC. ???
Ehrlich listened to small-business owners complain about the proposed cost of tolls for the Intercounty Connector, which they said would cost $10 round trip. The former governor, who authorized the ICC to be built as a toll road, though rates are set under O'Malley, didn't have much to say.
* Flims. More tax credits.
Ehrlich vowed to restore -- and maybe then some -- the $6 million annual tax credit his administration provided for the Maryland film industry. The credit has slipped to $1 million under O'Malley. Ehrlich, who referenced a 2004 trip to Hollywood to learn about the film industry, said the "multiplier effect" of the credit is a "no-brainer." "Everybody makes out big. It's a little program, but it's really important."
* Acrimony. Yeah, absolutely.
As the round table drew to a close, Ehrlich said he wanted to address a claim that he's heard some Democrats make -- that if he returns to Annapolis, "acrimony" between the governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature also will make a comeback. Will it?
"Yeah, yeah, absolutely," Ehrlich said. He said he wouldn't be afraid of "major conflict" with the General Assembly. "The politics of 'yes' are easy," he said. "But it'll be positive conflict, the kind of conflict the people demand."