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Republicans say Glendening budget priorities 'out of whack'

January 31, 2002

Republicans say Glendening budget priorities 'out of whack'



By LAURA ERNDE
laurae@herald-mail.com


Maryland Republican delegates say Gov. Parris Glendening's proposed budget is so out of whack they're urging the legislature to reject it outright.

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At a press conference Wednesday, GOP members of Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly joined other Republicans in criticizing the budget.

"We have a duty to send it to the only appropriate place, which is the trash can in the governor's office," Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said afterward.

Republicans said Glendening's priorities are in the wrong place.

The Republicans plan to file a motion to bring Glendening's $22 billion fiscal 2003 budget out of committee and out for debate by the House, said Delegate Robert Flanagan, R-Howard.

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The Republicans also said they oppose Glendening's proposal to delay a 2 percent income tax cut that was to go into effect this year.

The $22.2 billion budget doesn't earmark enough money for things such as mental health services, the Republicans said.

At the same time, Glendening is raiding independent budget funds and siphoning money from the Rainy Day Fund in order to balance the budget, they said.

"They're asking the legislature to rob, tax and borrow from Peter to pay Paul," said Del. Alfred W. Redmer Jr., R-Baltimore.

The next governor and legislature will have to deal with budget deficits, they said.

Glendening's spokesman Michael Morrill defended the budget, saying it keeps current state services intact while making increases to environmental and education programs.

Morrill said the Republicans' argument doesn't make sense.

"We're not spending enough and we're spending too much, it's the typical Republican complaint. They don't seem to understand," Morrill said. "There's an intelligence incoherence."

As an example of the budget's problems, Republicans point to the fund that pays for medevac helicopters, the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and training for fire and rescue companies.

Last year the legislature increased the cost of two-year car registrations from $70 to $76 to shore up the ailing fund.

Now Glendening wants to take $5 million out of the fund to prop up the general fund.

Morrill said even after the transfer the fund will still meet expenses through 2015.

Republicans want to use an obscure rule to bring the budget to the House floor for an early vote as soon as next week.

They're hoping enough Democrats will side with them to defeat the budget and send a message to Glendening that the budget needs to be redone.

Several prominent Democrats have been critical of the governor's budget, including Sen. Barbara Hoffman, chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

However, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, said the motion to bring up the budget will be defeated.

"I think I must reluctantly conclude that my Republican friends are dabbling in election-year rhetoric," Taylor said. "I've been here for 28 years, and this kind of maneuvering has never been suggested or attempted."

Glendening has said formulating the budget was difficult this year because the recession caused the state to have less money in revenues than was expected.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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