The Washington Post has been running a series of editorials critical of the influence wielded by teacher and public employee unions over elected officials in Montgomery County. This culminated in a lengthy May 30 editorial, entitled “A Tale of Two Counties”, in which the Post compared Montgomery and Fairfax Counties and implied that Fairfax County is now in a better position economically because its elected officials were not beholden to unions.
[Montgomery County] has just completed a nightmarish budget year. Stressed, squabbling and besieged elected officials savaged services and programs and jacked up taxes to eliminate an eye-popping deficit of almost $1 billion in a $4.3 billion spending plan. Meanwhile, across the Potomac River in Fairfax County, all was sweetness and light by comparison. With a budget roughly equal to Montgomery’s, Fairfax officials erased a deficit a quarter as large with relative ease and far less drama. …
The region’s two largest jurisdictions — demographic cousins with populations around 1 million, school systems among the nation’s biggest and best, and public spending equal to that of small countries — have parted ways. To put it bluntly, Montgomery is lurching under the weight of irresponsible governance, unsustainable commitments and political spinelessness — particularly in the face of politically powerful public employees unions.
Over the past few months, some readers have asked why we lately have devoted attention to those unions. The diverging paths of Montgomery and Fairfax provide one explanation.
Center Maryland commentary analyzing the Post editorial
Maryland Politics Watch blog article questioning the motive behind the Post’s teacher union concerns