- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

ANNAPOLIS A House of Delegates committee voted yesterday to restore some funding for Gov. Parris N. Glendening's top priorities that had been stripped from the budget by the Senate.
"We have not been as devastating to many of the governor's priorities and the people's priorities" as the Senate, Delegate Howard P. Rawlings, Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said.
The committee voted to restore $20 million for two of Mr. Glendening's land-preservation programs that are at the heart of his campaign to preserve open space for future generations and slow the growth of suburban sprawl.
The committee also agreed to restore five new positions for the office that runs the governor's Smart Growth program, an initiative that has won him national acclaim. The Senate had left only one position, deciding that the governor could borrow employees from elsewhere in the administration to administer Smart Growth programs.
Mr. Rawlings also singled out higher education as another example of his committee's desire to provide more money for Mr. Glendening's top priorities.
The House committee approved only a modest increase a little more than 1 percent but the Senate voted to deny any increase, holding funding for Maryland's university system next year at the same level as the current year.
The Senate will take a final vote on the budget today.
The Appropriations Committee has scheduled a final voting session to wrap up a few loose ends before taking the budget before the House later in the week.
The two houses are not far apart in total reductions, with the House committee cutting about $370.6 million from Mr. Glendening's budget and the Senate about $355 million.
But Mr. Rawlings said there are numerous differences between the two houses on where they chose to cut spending that will have to be resolved by April 1, the deadline for passing the budget.
The longest debate during the 3-hour Appropriations Committee session dealt only indirectly with the budget.
At the urging of Mr. Rawlings, the committee voted to deny $34.2 million in state aid to Prince George's County schools next year unless the legislature passes a bill before the session ends April 8 to revamp the county school board.


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