- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2002

ANNAPOLIS The state Senate yesterday approved the $22 billion state budget despite complaints from liberal Democrats that too much money was cut and opposition from Republican conservatives who wanted even deeper cuts.
The vote was 34-12, with four of 34 Democrats and eight of 13 Republicans voting against it.
Work on the budget now shifts to the House of Delegates, where the Appropriations Committee met after the Senate voted on how to trim the budget Gov. Parris N. Glendening submitted in January.
Democrats who opposed the budget objected to the decision by the Budget and Taxation Committee to reject Mr. Glendening's proposal to cancel a 2 percent income-tax cut that took effect Jan. 1.
Delaying the tax cut would have increased revenues $177 million, money that could have been used to avoid cuts in programs to reduce the size of public school classes, prevent at-risk students from dropping out of school and preserve land for future generations, said state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen, Montgomery County Democrat.
He predicted that because of the Senate's decision to eliminate increased aid for higher education, "we will see tuition increases up to 10 percent."
Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, Baltimore Democrat, said the tax cut would save only a few dollars a year for most Maryland taxpayers.
"Most people …, Republicans and Democrats, would give it up" to avoid cuts to programs that help people, he said.
"What we are trying to do is use it [the tax cut] in an election year for re-election purposes," Mr. Mitchell said.
But Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, the Baltimore Democrat who is chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said it was important for lawmakers to keep the promise they made five years ago that the income tax would be reduced by 10 percent. The final 2 percent of that reduction took effect Jan. 1.
Mrs. Hoffman said her committee did what was necessary to ensure that the budget is balanced and that the legislature will not be facing another budget crisis when it meets next year.
"This budget does not please people who would like to do much more. It does not please people who would like to do much less," Mrs. Hoffman said.
"This budget is in the middle."
Republicans who voted against the budget said Mrs. Hoffman's committee did a good job of making Mr. Glendening's budget less objectionable but did not go far enough.
"This budget is built on an unstable foundation because of the excessive spending the last three years," said Sen. Larry E. Haines, Carroll County Republican.
He warned that without deeper cuts, the legislature could face an even more difficult situation when it convenes next January.
"I think there is still room for some reductions," Mr. Haines said.
But Senate Republican Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus of Somerset County said he decided with reluctance to vote for the budget because "I think further cuts would hurt people."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide