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O’Malley pushes two sessions on Maryland revenue, gambling issues
ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O'Malley emerged Tuesday from a much-anticipated meeting with the state’s two leading lawmakers and revealed that he is not only leaning toward calling a special session, but he might even call two of them.
Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, said he hopes to bring the General Assembly back into session by mid-May so legislators can pass a set of tax and revenue increases to erase $512 million in cuts that were put into place when the assembly adjourned April 9.
The governor said he wants to focus strictly on finances and hold off on debating a gambling bill pushed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., but he might order a second special session to take it up this summer.
Mr. O’Malley told reporters that he hopes to settle gambling and the budget this year while avoiding the bickering that marred the end of the regular session, when lawmakers adjourned without agreement on either issue.
“I think that both issues deserve a hearing and some resolution,” the governor said. “And I think, though, that what made this session very disappointing and frustrating by the end was that we were considering both those issues at the same time.”
The governor had breakfast Tuesday with Mr. Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch in the first discussion among the three since the regular session’s end. The adjournment left the governor and speaker accusing Mr. Miller of intentionally stalling budget talks to pressure the House into passing a bill that would have let voters decide whether to legalize table games and approve a new casino in Prince George’s County.
Mr. Miller, Prince George’s Democrat, is anxious to get a gambling bill passed in time for a referendum this November. Failure to do so would push a vote on the issues to 2014 at the earliest.
Officials say the agreement is just a starting point for future negotiations, and Mr. Miller has already proposed tweaking the deal by extending tax increases to single residents making more than $75,000 and couples making more than $125,000 in taxable income — a departure from the previous House-proposed plan to start increases at $100,000 and $150,000 respectively.
“Both of us have numerous members that we have to bring back and have a discussion,” he said.
Despite its $512 million in cuts, state budget analysts said last week the default budget is actually not balanced and that $70 million in new reductions are neededto bring spending in line with revenues.
Mr. O'Malley said he must propose the cuts to the Board of Public Works by May 23 if he wants them included in the budget, which is scheduled to go into effect July 1.
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About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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