- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2012

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and the state’s two leading lawmakers are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss a possible special session, according to letters obtained Friday by The Washington Times.

The Democratic governor is scheduled to meet with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, in the first significant discussion between the three since the General Assembly adjourned April 9 without passing an expected set of tax and revenue increases.

Mr. Miller, Prince George’s Democrat, sent a letter Friday to Mr. O’Malley and Mr. Busch in which he called for compromise between the House and Senate on revenue increases and reaffirmed his belief that lawmakers should take up a proposal to expand gambling during the special session.

The governor and Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, have said they don’t want to address gambling during a special session.

They have both accused Mr. Miller of stalling budget talks at the end of the regular session in a failed effort to pressure House lawmakers into supporting a bill that would have let voters decide whether to add table games at the state’s slots casinos and bring a new casino in Prince George’s County.

“I did not connect the issue to the budget and will not do so in a special session but I will state that I remain frustrated,” Mr. Miller said in the letter. “I continue to believe that it is wrong to deny the voters the opportunity to have a say in whether we expand gaming …”

Mr. Miller added that the chambers aren’t far apart on a budget agreement to raise income-tax rates and other revenues to avoid more than $500 million in cuts that went into effect when lawmakers adjourned April 9 without passing a revenue package.

He said he is ready to accept a late compromise between House and Senate negotiators to that would have phased in a split of teacher-pension costs with counties over four years.

However, Mr. Miller said he would like the House to back off its stance to raise income-tax rates only on single residents making $100,000 or more and couples making $150,000 or more, and instead apply tax hikes to singles and couples making more than $75,000 and $125,000 respectively.

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