They were stashing last year's crying towels and austerity sermons in Annapolis when the General Assembly convened yesterday -- because there seems to be money around. But the real fun won't begin until everyone tries to spend it -- which would be much easier if nearly everyone weren't keeping one eye on the coffers and another on next year's hot political campaigns. There's always that slim chance, of course, that enough of the people running for office will fall upon somewhat similar reasons to make runs on the money; if so, they might well do something sensible about addressing age-old social concerns in the state: health-care costs, corrections policies and help for poor and troubled children and teen-agers.
Consider the cast and what's coming in '86: There's a governor who may want to run for the U.S. Senate; an attorney general, a mayor of Baltimore and a speaker of the House each looking at a race for governor (not to mention at each other); and all 188 legislative seats are up for election. Even if there's general agreement, the specifics may fly in many conflicting directions. Nearly every politician, for example, is saying that the legislature should do something in this session about hospital costs. But when it comes to closings, ceilings on revenues and curbs on the numbers of beds, which lawmakers will be first to volunteer their local hospitals for the sacrifices?
And if Gov. Harry Hughes is serious about his emphasis on youth services or prison improvements, he will have to come up with proposals that would spread the wealth around the state in politically acceptable doses. There is no question that the opportunity is ripe to do more, as the governor would, about alcohol and drug-abuse counseling, day care, prevention of child abuse and foster care. And that is an encouraging prospect.