It is so novel that, going into the week of his inauguration, even Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich might not have been aware of it. But it has been kicked around by a few Democratic leaders, and they're looking into it.
Under this idea, the state would emulate homeowners who are trying to cope with the national economic blues by taking advantage of home equity credit lines. But instead of loans backed by the borrower's stake in the family home, this would involve the issuance of bonds backed by the state employee retirement fund.
The state would pay interest over the life of the five- or seven-year bonds, thereby leaving the retirement fund intact.
As explained by one proponent, the bonds could be used to raise a substantial portion _ perhaps $500 million of the expected $1.2 billion gap.
If _ and it's a big if _ Ehrlich and the legislature agree to to legalize slot machines at race tracks, that would produce another chunk conservatively estimated at $300 million.
Combined with the bond revenue, this would bring the total of fresh money to $800 million, or two-thirds of the looming deficit.
In the budget he presents later this week, Ehrlich is reported to have included about $300 million in short-term revenues as a loan from the state transportation fund.
The budget gap would then be narrowed to $100 million, which the legislative money committees could trim from the governor's $21 billion spending proposals without great pain.
This would leave the governor free to promote his top priorities such as Project Exile to deal with gun-toting felons, faith-based charities and charter schools. Oh, yes _ and slot machines at the tracks.
This last item has been reported in jeopardy because of in-fighting among horse breeders, track owners and slot machine lobbyists over who would get how much of the swag.
In the track clubhouses and owners' boxes, racing is sometimes referred to as improvement of the (thoroughbred) breed.
But, as has been demonstrated by the unseemly dispute over the potential slot machine bonanza, it may be more accurately characterized as improvement of the greed.
Many members of this new legislature are still groping for a comfortable hold on their unaccustomed relationship between a Democrat-controlled legislature and a Republican governor.
Senate President Mike Miller says he can deal with anyone, so there's no problem. But House Speaker Mike Busch opposes slots and is a big problem for the well-paid army of lobbyists promoting them.
Busch, who can disagree without being disagreeable, is one of the most respected figures in Annapolis.
Another member with the disagree-but-not-disagreeable reputation is Del. Pat McDonough of Perry Hall, the only "double double" delegate _ two parties and two jurisdictions.
He was elected two decades ago as a Baltimore City Democrat and last November as a Baltimore County Republican.
"In another 20 years," he cracks, "I may be elected as a Libertarian from the Eastern Shore."