ANNAPOLIS -- For the state's Democratic-dominated political leadership, Nov. 6 brings not only general elections for governor, General Assembly and scores of other offices, but the unveiling of long-promised programs and proposals.

There will be a plan for a wholesale restructuring of state taxes and probably an increase in the gasoline tax -- after the election.

There will be a plan for wide-ranging changes in land-use planning and control -- after the election.

There will be details of at least $180 million in cuts from the current state budget to avoid a deficit -- after the election.

With the important reports and recommendations on pivotal issues scheduled for release after the election, critics argue that Gov. William Donald Schaefer and fellow Democratic officeholders are cynically manipulating the timetable to stifle debate during the campaign.

"It's obvious that from the administration's perspective, it's a political hot potato," said Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R-Baltimore County), the House minority leader. "{They} don't want to talk about it until the election is over."

Democrats, meanwhile, deny there's any agreement to postpone important reports until after they are safely back in office for four years.

"People say, 'You're doing this for political reasons,' " said House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. (D-Kent). "No we're not. It's just that things are changing so rapidly."

When the governor's Commission on State Taxes and Tax Structure announced in September that it would not meet again until after the election, Republican gubernatorial candidate William S. Shepard accused Schaefer of "muzzling" the panel.

"If he had nothing to hide, he would have welcomed public discussion," Shepard said. "Now there can be no doubt whatsoever that Schaefer has an agenda to raise our taxes following this general election."

Most of the long-term study commissions, in fact, have always been scheduled to deliver their reports and recommendations after the election.

The tax commission, headed by Montgomery County lawyer R. Robert Linowes, from its inception three years ago has planned to report after Nov. 6.

"That was a political decision made three years ago," said Del. Charles J. Ryan (D-Prince George's), chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Linowes said he personally insisted that the report be released after the election so it could be considered "dispassionately" and not become a campaign issue. The report, which Linowes has hinted will call for a more progressive state income tax and expansion of the state sales tax to cover services delivered in Maryland, is now set to be made public Nov. 8.

For months, legislators and administration officials have been saying they expect Schaefer to seek an increase, ranging from 5 to 10 cents a gallon, in the state's 18.5-cent gasoline tax.

Although Schaefer has refused to say whether he favors a gas tax increase, lawmakers said almost a month ago that the governor was preparing to name a commission to study the need for higher fuel taxes, tolls or fees to pay for new roads and bridges.

"It hasn't been named yet, and I'm not sure why," Schaefer's press secretary, Paul E. Schurick, said last week. "Maybe the governor and legislators weren't ready."

But other sources said that the administration, concerned about how such discussions would play at the same time Congress was considering raising federal gasoline taxes, shelved the idea of appointing a commission that would hold public hearings before the election.

Also scheduled to issue its report in mid-November is the Governor's Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region.

Headed by former representative Michael D. Barnes, the year-old commission is considering politically explosive recommendations that could give the state vast new power in controlling growth and development across Maryland.

In July, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., a Democrat, criticized the commission for meeting in private. Curran conceded, however, that the commission was not subject to state open-meeting laws, and Schaefer supported the decision to have closed sessions. Since then, the full commission has not met.

Of a more immediate nature is the administration's need to curtail state spending to prevent a deficit in the budget year ending June 30.

On Sept. 1, Schaefer said the projected deficit was $150 million, about 1 percent of the budget. To compensate for about two-thirds of the deficit, he ordered a freeze on state hiring and equipment purchases as well as restrictions on official travel.

But within a month, the projected deficit had ballooned to $180 million, and legislative fiscal analysts say the shortfall could surpass $250 million.

Despite orders that agencies would have to cut 1 percent to 5 percent of their planned spending, the administration has refused to release details on how it will be accomplished.

Late last week, sources at the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning said detailed cutback plans won't be unveiled for several weeks, quite likely not until after the Nov. 6 elections.

Maryland Republican Party Chairwoman Joyce L. Terhes called the post-election surprises "unfair" to the voters. "It's all political strategy," Terhes said. "The handwriting's on the wall. We just don't know how bad it's going to be."