General Assembly Adjourns, Passes Doomsday Budget Without Tax Hikes

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Courtesy of Citybizlist – The members of the General Assembly passed a $35.6 billion balanced budget as they were required to do by midnight Monday. But without the income tax hike they failed to enact, it is the doomsday budget that contains $512 million in additional cuts, much of it to education.

A clearly angry Gov. Martin O’Malley told reporters the General Assembly failed to protect the priorities that state voters expected them to do. But in a brief press conference, he did not announce he would call a special session, as the Senate and House leaders expect him to do.

“There was 90 days to work all this out,” O’Malley said as he walked away.

O’Malley, Busch blame Miller and gaming

O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch both blamed Senate President Mike Miller’s insistence on a gaming measure for Prince George’s County for holding up action. But others, including delegates and senators on the conference committee, said the hard philosophical positions on both sides played a role.

“I feel terrible about [the session],” Busch told reporters.

The gaming bill, which passed the House Ways and Means Committee Monday afternoon, never came to the House floor.

The House never brought up the tax hike that the House and Senate negotiators agreed to around 8 p.m. An unhappy group of senators had given into adamant delegates over the form of income tax hikes.

The House version raised less money than the Senate, increasing rates by .25 percent on individuals making more than $100,000 and lowering their exemptions.

“We certainly have changed our position…for the sake of averting difficult cuts,” said Senate Budget and Taxation Chairman Ed Kasemeyer. “It is a somber moment for us…We’re not real happy.”

The revenue package was on the Senate floor as the clock struck midnight. But there was none of the balloons and confetti that usually marks the end of session in both houses.

“We did the best we could,” Miller said. He admitted that there would be many constituents that would be happy about the drastic budget cuts.

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin said, “We’ve done what we needed to do. Let’s go home.”

The cuts include over $200 million to K-12 education and $63 million to colleges and universities. State employees would not get a 2% cost of living increase ($33 million) and agency operating expenses would be cut eight percent.

Read more at Citybizlist



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