The General Assembly fulfilled its state constitutional duty Saturday by wrapping up action on Gov. Martin O'Malley's nearly $39 billion operating budget.
Final approval came as the House and Senate approved the agreement rreached by negotiators for the two chambers. The legislature also ratified a deal on a companion measure that would provide $18.5 million to be available for the state's film tax credit -- considered critical in keeping the production of the Netflix television show House of Cards in Maryland.
Still pending in the House is a measure that would set the rules for the tax credit program in the future. Lawmakers are looking for a way to make Maryland less vulnerable to threats to move productions out of state if their demands for subsidies are not satisfied.
The budget bill, which takes effect July 1, increases state spending by about 3 percent from the current year's budget.
Though the budget was wrapped up late in the session, which ends Monday night, there was little of the drama that has surrounded its passage in some past years. While the House and Senate wrangled over issues such as storm water fees and the film tax credit before resolving them, there were no politically charged tax increases on the table as they head into an election.
"The budgets just really weren't contentious," said House Speaker Michael E. Busch.
The conference committee agreement leaves $879 million in state reserves, helping to protect the state's AAA bond rating. The budget includes $6.1 billion in aid to K-12 public education, including $4.3 million for O'Malley's initiative expanding pre-kindergarten education.
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