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O'Malley, Miller, Busch to talk Tuesday about possible special session

April 23, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday that he still didn’t know if a casino gaming bill will be part of an expected Maryland General Assembly special session.

O’Malley, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. are scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

When key parts of a budget package failed during the recent legislative session, Busch and O’Malley alleged that a Miller-backed gambling bill held up everything else.

But Miller, who supports having a new casino in Prince George’s County and legalizing table games, disagreed. In a letter to senators last week, he wrote that it was “patently untrue” that the budget impasse “was somehow connected to gaming.”

O’Malley said Monday that he expects Tuesday’s meeting to be limited to public safety, education, the state’s AAA bond rating and finishing the budget work.

Until there’s a consensus on an agenda, though, “it doesn’t make sense to call a special session,” he said.

Miller has said the legislature probably would need only a day or two to reconvene and finish its work.

There’s a natural deadline of June 30, when the state’s fiscal year ends.

Without passing a tax-increase package to accompany the budget, the legislature ended up with a fiscal year 2013 “doomsday” budget with more than $500 million in cuts.

However, Republicans have pointed out that the next budget still calls for $700 million more in spending than this year.

Asked about that Monday, O’Malley listed some of the damaging cuts necessitated by the current version of the budget — $30 million for community colleges; $50 million for higher education, forcing a tuition increase.

“I understand that everybody’s against all taxes,” he said, “but you know what? You pay for that, too. And so we need to make sure we invest in the things that allow us to continue to drive our unemployment rate down. I don’t think that there’s a county in the state that’s taken it on the chin, in terms of jobs, harder than Washington County has.”

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