O'Malley, Busch, Miller unveil budget agreement for special session

Standing side by side, Gov. Martin O'Malley and the state's two top legislative leaders unveiled the broad outlines of the budget plan they hope to enact quickly during a special session next week.

The plan will raise income taxes on those making more than $100,000 a year (households making more than $150K), a House-backed proposal similar to the one that budget conferees agreed to in the final hours of session. It also makes deeper cuts than the budget O'Malley initially submitted in January.

Maryland's General Assembly adjourned in April without passing the agreed upon budget package. That left the state with a so-called Doomsday spending plan that cut deeply in Baltimore and Prince George's and Montgomery Counties.

"To leave the budget as it stands right now would damage the very forward motion that all of us working together are trying to hard to achieve for our state," O'Malley said.

O'Malley will introduce the new plan on Monday when the General Assembly convenes. The governor said the new spending plan will grow by 2.6 percent over last year's budget. He noted that would be the "the third lowest growth rate in two decades," he said.

Busch spoke briefly and said he is "very pleased" with budget plan. He said that he has the 71 votes needed in his chamber to pass the plan. "We fell a little short on the final day of session," he said, noting that the placeholder budget cuts education, would result in an increase in tuition and takes resources from the developmentally disabled.

Miller said he is "very proud" to be part of the government. A staffer said that the Senate also has votes for passage and also to overcome any procedural hurdles the Republican minority may attempt. "We need to correct what needs to be corrected to move the state forward," Miller said.

The new budget plan will reinstate cuts, preventing 500 state employees from being fired. Money will be put back for the popular sustainable communities tax credit the biotechnology tax credit -- funds will be added to the stem cell research fund. It also adds back controversial scholarship money that delegates and senators award to constituents

Stripped from the plan are some of the so-called "ornaments" -- extra goodies added in the final hours of session to secure votes from large counties. The Prince George's County delegation will not see a fix to "net taxable income" -- a wealth formula that costs them millions each year. O'Malley said he plans to address that issue in his budget next year.

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