The leadership of the Maryland Senate made no move today to reverse Monday's startling rejection of next year's proposed budget.
But the budget's narrow defeat, which resulted from senators' frustration at their own inability to cut proposed spending, provided the background both for jockeying in the contest for the 1978 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and for conjecture over the ultimate disposition of some of this year's major legislation.
Much of the visible maneuvering today was lighhearted, almost joking, the more serious aspects hidden behind closed doors and a politician's normal reserve.
Two of the leading condidates for the governor's nomination, Lt. Gov. Blair Lee III and Senate President Steny H. Hoyer (D-Prince George's) wore radically different expressions in the aftermath of the defeat of the budget.
After jokingly trading insults with some of the senators who voted against the budget, Lee took a swipe at his competitor's inability to push the budget through the Senate.
"The control in that Senate seems to have passed to the eight Republicans and a group of dissident Democrats" who voted against the budget, Lee said.
For his part, Hoyer emerged grimfaced from a meeting of the Senate leadership to announce that there was no substantial change in the situation, which threatens Gov. Marvin Mandel's proposal to increase the sales tax from 4 to 5 per cent as well as the budget Mandel proposed.
"Obviously, we're going to try to move the budget," Hoyer said. "I have learned of no alternative plans that those who voted against the budget have."
A move to reconsider the vote on the budget must be made within 48 hours under Senate rules. Hoyer said the reconsideration did not take place today because 'I didn't think the votes were clearly identified as to where people are. You know, you can only reconsider once."
Meanwhile, several legislators hinted that their votes on the budget may depend on the disposition of other issues. Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell III (D-Baltimore) said, "I'm not adverse to people voting against Continental Can (a controversial Baltimore prison proposal Mitchell opposes) to get some votes on the budget."
And Del. Nathaniel Exum (D-Prince George's), one of 14 black delegates who held up House of Delegates action on the death penalty for two days, hinted that his vote on the budget, when it reaches the House might be tied to the fate of the bill to restore the death penalty in the state.
"The budget only passed by a couple of votes last year," he said. "What would happen if 14 people just didn't vote at all this year?" The budget needs 24 votes in the Senate and 12 in the House to pass.
In other action, the House tacked a "self-destruct" admendment on a proposed lobbying disclosure bill. Under the amendment, approved 61 to 15, the legislation would expire automatically in 1980 unless the legislature votes to keep the bill in force.
Del. Howard Needle (D-Howard), argued that putting an expiration date on the measure would hamper what is supposed to be a "sunshine" bill to let the public know how much lobbyists spend and for whom they buy dinner and drinks while attempting to influence legislation.