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Capital budget passes General Assembly

The state's $740 million capital budget includes more than $11 million for local building projects. Several other Washington Cou

The state's $740 million capital budget includes more than $11 million for local building projects. Several other Washington Cou

April 08, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland's $740 million capital budget, which included more than $11 million in local building projects, nearly fell victim to a political stalemate on the final day of the 90-day legislative session.

House leaders were pushing to get grants for nonprofits that were delayed last year, including $550,000 for Washington County nonprofits such as the Red Cross and Girls Inc.

But Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. called the grants "pork barrel projects" and said the $12.7 million should go to school construction instead.

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"That's a position I find it hard not to agree with," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, a member of the conference committee that ironed out the two chambers' differences.

The conference committee agreed to do the projects in the fiscal 2005 capital budget.

The 2004 capital budget earmarks:

  • $1.25 million to equip the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

  • $2.7 million for Hagerstown's Hope IV housing project.

  • $1.8 million for Salem Avenue Elementary School.

  • $985,000 for a new state police barrack in Hagerstown.



In addition to the capital budget, Washington County's bills beat the midnight deadline.

Local bills that passed Monday will allow tighter regulation of massage parlors, increase liquor pouring license fees and ban out-of-state liquor license owners from opening stores in Washington County.

Munson, R-Washington, said between budget cuts and tax proposals, the session was an emotional one.

More budget pain is on the horizon because Gov. Robert Ehrlich plans to veto a corporate tax package that passed the legislature, which will force him to cut another $135 million from the budget.

A bipartisan government, with a Republican controlling the governor's mansion and Democrats controlling the legislature, led to more debates than in past years, said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

"I think that's a healthy thing. It's good to have all sides represented on various issues," Donoghue said.

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