Senate approves O'Malley's budget

ElectionsBudgets and BudgetingPoliticsRepublican PartyE.J. PipkinThomas V. Mike MillerMartin O'Malley

Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget for next year was approved by the Senate after an unusually brief debate Wednesday in a sign of the state's improved fiscal condition.

Senators voted 42-5 to pass the $36.8 billion budget and send it to a conference committee with the House. All 35 Democrats and seven Republicans voted in favor of the budget, which comes close to eliminating what was once a nearly $2 billion long-term revenue shortfall.

"I can't remember any time the budget was adopted by a larger margin." said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. Unlike the current budget, which runs through June 30, next year's is not accompanied by tax increase to bring it into balance.

Miller put the bill on a fast track, holding both a preliminary and a final vote on a single day. He told senators he wants to start negotiations with the House quickly in order to avoid a repeat of last year's end to the 90-day session, when contentious budget negotiations dragged into the final hours of the last day. As a result of the chaotic conclusion, companion bills to the budget did not pass before time ran out, resulting in a special session to pass a budget fix.

"We're not going to duplicate the bad results of the end of the session last year," Miller said. He said there are still "stark" differences with the House over such matters as pensions and education aid to rural counties but added that the gap is not as great as last year's.

Before the final vote, Republican senators put up a token resistance during a budget amendment process that took less than an hour -- far less time than it usually takes. They offered only six amendments -- one agreed to by the budget committee and five rejected by wide margins. Unlike in past years, none of the GOP amendments focused on the overall size of the budget. Instead they focused on such policy issues as school security, abortion and stem cell research.

Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, said the high level of GOP support for the budget reflects the fact more revenue is coming in because of past years' tax increases.

"This year was different," he said. "This year was about dividing up the pie."

Pipkin himself opposed the budget, complaining that it grows by $1 billion over this year's spending level.

Miller, a Calvert County Democrat,  attributed the strong bipartisan support to an improved economy, increased employment and increased spending on social programs.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
ElectionsBudgets and BudgetingPoliticsRepublican PartyE.J. PipkinThomas V. Mike MillerMartin O'Malley
  • Complete Coverage: Baltimore Sun Poll 2014
    Complete Coverage: Baltimore Sun Poll 2014

    OpinionWorks of Annapolis conducted the poll for The Baltimore Sun. See how Maryland voters responded when asked about the gubernatorial and presidential races, as well as issues facing state lawmakers.

  • Maryland's 2014 candidates for governor
    Maryland's 2014 candidates for governor

    The 2014 campaign for Maryland governor is well under way, with contested primary races in both the Democratic and Republican parties. The primary election is June 24. Candidates include three Democrats and four Republicans. -- Michael Dresser

  • General Assembly 2014 session [Pictures]
    General Assembly 2014 session [Pictures]
  • Baltimore City mayors through the years
    Baltimore City mayors through the years

    Since its founding in 1797, Baltimore has had 57 mayors. Between 1919 and the present, 13 have occupied the mayoral chair at City Hall. Here are some facts about those mayors, along with some of their major accomplishments. --Frederick N. Rasmussen Also see: Maryland governors through the...

  • Top-paid lobbyists in Maryland for 2011
    Top-paid lobbyists in Maryland for 2011

    Eight Maryland lobbyists got more than $1 million in billing compensation, as companies spent heavily trying to promote their agendas in Annapolis. Lobbyists have to report their activities, and a listing is generated each time an advocate picks up an active client. In this gallery, you can...

  • Top-lobbying Maryland companies in 2011
    Top-lobbying Maryland companies in 2011

    Companies and organizations spent big money on lobbyists last year, looking for help in convincing the state government to act in their interests. Here are some of the biggest spenders, according to a Maryland State Ethics Commission report covering the period between Nov. 1, 2010 and Oct....

Comments
Loading