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Senate passes Glendening budget

March 22, 2001

Senate passes Glendening budget



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening's $21 billion budget passed the Senate Thursday over Republican warnings that it's fiscally irresponsible.

"This is a cross your fingers, hold your breath and hope for the best budget at best," said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Martin G. Madden, R-Howard/Prince George's.

With the vote of 37-10, Republican senators sent the strongest message they have sent against Glendening's budget in five years.

Washington County Sen. Donald F. Munson was one of two Republican senators and the only GOP member of the Budget and Taxation Committee who voted for the budget.

Munson said he'll be appointed to the conference committee that will work out the differences between the House and Senate budget cuts before it is finalized.

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"It's got a lot of warts, but I'm going to be a conferee and I hope to fix some of those warts. I think the budget's going to come out much different," he said.

The budget includes items that benefit Washington County, including $13.3 million for a University System of Maryland education center in Hagerstown, he said.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, who has voted against the budget every year since he was sworn in 1999, had more company this year.

"There's a lot of pressure to go along and get along down here. Maybe one of these days we'll defeat a budget and then we'll have to go back and redo it and not tax and spend as much," he said.

Madden said the budget relies on capital gains taxes that he believes won't come through because of the recent stock market tumble.

Glendening spokeswoman Michelle Byrnie said the budget is fiscally responsible because the surplus is being used for one-time expenses that don't commit the state in the long term.

Budget and Taxation Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, D-Baltimore, defended the committee's work on the budget.

"Is this a good budget? No. If you are doing your household budget this way you might have a leaky roof. We did the best we could with a fairly flawed budget document," bringing it under the legislature's self-imposed spending limits, she said.

Before voting on the budget, the Senate rejected attempts to remove $5 million for private school textbooks.

Mooney and Munson voted to keep the textbook money in the budget for next year.

This year under the program, parents will get a break of $60 per student at St. Maria Goretti High School, St. Mary School and Surrey Child Care Center.

Mooney tried to block taxpayer funding of abortions by offering an amendment to the budget.

His amendment would have mirrored federal law, which says abortions can be funded with taxpayer money only in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. It was defeated 21-25.

Last week in the House of Delegates, all but one Washington County delegate voted in favor of the budget.

Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, said Glendening didn't fund basic needs in the areas of health care, juvenile justice, mental health and farming.

"My vote was a protest. In voting for the budget I would have felt like I was turning my back on Medicare recipients and farmers. It was the worst budget I've seen," he said.

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