ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Feuding between Maryland's Republican governor and the Democratic-led legislature intensified Thursday, as black lawmakers criticized budget decisions affecting areas with large minority populations and the governor compared his critics to rowdy college students on spring break.
The criticism comes a week after Democratic lawmakers complained about Gov. Larry Hogan's use of social media to encourage his supporters to call lawmakers who voted to override his veto of legislation allowing felons to vote while on parole and probation.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus pointed to budget decisions affecting Baltimore and Prince George's counties. They said Hogan was rewarding rural parts of the state that supported him at the expense of areas with large populations.
"We're here to say as a caucus, it's time to stop politicking," said Del. Jay Walker, D-Prince George's. "It's time to start governing and leading the state of Maryland for the good of all Marylanders."
Doug Mayer, the governor's spokesman, noted that Hogan's immediate family members are minorities, including his wife and daughters, and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford is black.
"Since taking office, the governor has spent more time in Baltimore city than any other jurisdiction, and has invested more state dollars in regions of the state that are predominantly African American than anyplace else," Mayer said.
Del. Barbara Robinson, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, said it was "unconscionable" that Hogan is planning to spend about $480 million to build a new detention complex in Baltimore, while delaying projects at two historically black colleges in the city.
Hogan took issue with claims that he was more interested in building a jail in Baltimore than funding projects at the colleges. The governor said on "The C4 Show" radio program that he simply proposed building a jail Democratic lawmakers supported, but in a faster and less expensive way. He said he would scrap plans for the jail if lawmakers don't approve.
"The idea that I want to take money away from kids to incarcerate people and build a jail is simply nonsense," Hogan said.
The governor said he was willing to compromise, saying Democrats should consider working with him, because a recent poll indicated he had a 69 percent approval rating. Still, the governor's exasperation was obvious.
"It's crazy," Hogan said. "They come into town. It's like they're on spring break. They come here for a few weeks, and they start breaking up the furniture and throwing beer bottles off the balcony and all kinds of crazy stuff. Luckily, in a few weeks, they're going to go home, and we go back to running the state and making progress like we have been for the past year."
That comment stoked further anger in the Senate, where Sen. Robert Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, responded to the governor's comments on the Senate floor.
"The governor owes this body and the body across the hall and the citizens of Maryland yet another apology, because doing press conferences and taking credit for things that you have nothing to do with - and I don't know how he has time for Twitter and Facebook, but that seems to be all that we get is messages about that - that's not governing, and it's certainly not being a statesman," Zirkin said.