- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The General Assembly will reconvene the week of May 14 and is expected to spend two to three days finishing work on the fiscal 2013 budget, according to legislative leaders.
An official announcement of a special session was sent from the office of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Friday afternoon.
“The special session will be held to complete work on Maryland’s budget to ensure that Maryland’s Triple A bond rating is protected, and critical investments in public education, public safety, the State’s workforce, and critical social services are restored,” the announcement states.
Members of the House and Senate were close to a compromise on the budget and almost ready to move forward, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Prince George’s) of Chesapeake Beach told reporters Wednesday.
“I think we’ll deal with it in a two-day session, May 14 and May 15, perhaps May 16, but it will get done,” Miller said.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arrudenl) of Annapolis told The Gazette on Thursday that leaders from both chambers had met with the governor and were nearing an agreement.
The governor said last week that a budget resolution is necessary before May 23, when the state’s Board of Public Works will meet to consider $130 million in cuts required to balance the so-called “doomsday” budget.
During the regular session, budget negotiations between the House and Senate stalled regarding whether income taxes should be raised for those making less than $100,000. Although an agreement was reached late in the day April 9, the stalemate, which some say became entwined with the question of whether to expand gambling in the state, prevented lawmakers from passing a tax package to accompany the budget bill before the legislature adjourned.
If the legislature does not act, a default budget with more than $500 million in cuts will take effect July 1.
Busch and Miller have been divided on where the new budget negotiations should begin.
In a letter sent to both the speaker and O’Malley last month, Miller suggested a compromise that would lower the threshold for the increase from an adjusted gross income of $100,000 for a single filer to an adjusted gross income of $75,000, which Miller said would correspond to an overall income of $100,000. This would generate more revenues but “not tax salaries below levels sought by the House,” he wrote.
Busch told reporters this week that he thought a budget compromise should be close to the agreement reached April 9.
Discussion of expanding gambling to include table games at existing slots parlors and a casino site in Prince George’s County is expected to be postponed until at least late summer. The delay would allow further study of the economic impacts before another special session would be called. Gaming was not part of the announcement sent by the governor’s office. It did say that a press conference will be held early next week to discuss the special session.
“The governor’s made that pretty clear, and I think I agree with him, that if you’re going to take up the issue of gaming you need more data,” Busch said.
Staff writer Carrie Lovejoy contributed to this report.