The standoff between the House and Senate on Maryland's budget continued into midday Monday with only 12 hours before the General Assembly is scheduled to end its 90-day session. If the budget isn't passed, the legislature will be force into extended session for the first time since 1992.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Millerinsisted the differences are a matter of philosophy, not personality, and are not related to the issue of expanded gambling. He said he nwould be meeting this afternoon with Gov.Martin O'Malley's top aides to urge that the governor intervene to help resolve the budget issue.
While he played down the casino issue, speaking to reporters after the Senate took a break, Miller had a lot to say about gambling -- charging that city delegates who have objected to a Senate bill permitting a sixth casino site to be located Prince George's not understand the Washington area.
Baltimore delegates have threatened to oppose the Senate gambling bill, which would also permit table games, unless -- among other things -- a Baltimore slots location is given several years to operate before a Prince George's casino opens its doors.
Miller insisted that a Prince George's casino would not compete with the one expected to open in Baltimore.
The Senate's lead negotiator of the budget, Sen.Edward J. Kasemeyer, put the blame squarely on the House for the budget impasse.
"We just feel from a good faith perspective we've gone a lot toward them," said Kasemeyer, a Howard County Democrat.
House Speaker Michael E. Buschhas said negotiators would have to make a budget deal about five hours before the scheduled end of the session in order to get the bill through the chambers. Miller dismissed that estimate, insisting he could ram through a deal in minutes.