Montgomery County delegates and senators have been muttering their complaints to each other quietly here, but back in the county offices in Rockville, feelings against Lucille Maurer have been running high.
The cause of wrath being directed at the respected senior member of the Montgomery County delegation here: a recommendation, produced by a committee which she headed, that would cost the county $637,000 next year -- and millions more in years to come -- in state payments toward county teachers' Social Security benefits.
The angry remarks the 57-year-old Democrat is hearing from some of her constituents these days underscore the dilemma she has faced ever since coming to Annapolis as a freshman delegate in 1969: On one hand she is supposed to shape statewide policy, on the other, she is supposed to champion the interests of her home base.
Representing the wealthiest county in the state, at a time when state government has been intent on spreading the wealth around, Maurer has had an unusually difficult time reconciling her two roles. To make matters worse, she is the legislature's acknoweldged expert in the complexities of education financing -- for a decade the key mechanism for the redistribution of Maryland's taxes.
"She's torn between the statewide and local perspectives," said Maurer's office-mate and fellow Mongomery County Democrat Nancy Kopp. "She does better than the rest of us could in protecting the county's interests -- but that doesn't mean we're going to be satisfied when she shows us the bottom line and we're losing something."
On one occasion, Sen. Victor L. Crawford (D-Montgomery County) was heard making a sneering reference to "Lucille Maurer -- our stateswoman," as he complained about the proposed new social security payments.
Maurer, described by one colleague as "businesslike but ladylike," is clearly sensitive to such criticisms but says little about them. An economist by training, she served on the county Board of Education for eight years before her election to the legislature in 1968. She still seems more at home in the quiet world of figures and policies than in the hurly-burly of political debate where the policies become law.
"She's the thinking man's -- or woman's -- delegate," said Baltimore City Democrat Steven V. Sklar. Another observer added, "She's had more impact on education in Maryland than anyone else in the state."
As proof, the observer pointed to her dominant role in developing the Lee-Maurer formula, for seven years the cornerstone of the distribution of millions of dollars in state education aid to local jurisdications.
"She knows the numbers; she has credibility with the rest of the state," said Kopp.
But, said Sklar, "If you're talking about identifying blocs, making political alliances, she's not a leader in that way. She is a leader in the thought process behind things."
Delegates close to Maurer say this is only partly true -- she saves her political capital to spend on the issues that really mean something to her, particularly in the education field.
"In '72, I fought very hard against a bill that would have cost Montgomery County $20 million," Maurer said. "We got the bill referred to a committee, and it was that committee that developed the Lee-Maurer formula. But people don't remember that -- they only remember something like this year, when I'm involved in something that gets the county less than $100,000 overall, (compared to nearly $10 million for Prince George's) and costs them that big chunk of Social Security payments."
There was a slightly wistful note in Maurer's voice as she recalled her past battles, as there is sometimes whenshe discusses her disappointing fifth-place finish in Montgomery County's 1976 Democratic congressional primary or her failure to win a leadership spot on the Ways and Means Committee last year.
But such a tone is rare with Maurer, who has a grandmotherly mein and generally regards the vagaries of the legislative process with gentle humor, as evidenced by the way she displays "The Game of Legislation" -- a spoof on the workings of state government -- prominently in her office.
"You've got to balance things -- keep your area's interests protected, consistent with your state goals," she said. "It doesn't always keep everybody happy," she added with a wink and a resigned grin.