Gov. Martin O'Malley on Monday challenged lawmakers who are unhappy with his proposal to raise income taxes on six-figure earners to come up with an alternative that's less painful.

Asked about resistance to his proposal to start phasing out deductions for households making $100,000 or more, O'Malley told a State House news conference that he is not backing down from that provision of his budget plan.

"I don't have a Plan B. Perhaps the legislature can identify the revenues to replace that (money). I don't have a good alternative," he said. "The alternative is cuts. We've been doing nothing but cutting and cutting the last four years."

O'Malley said the record shows his administration has had the "wherewithal" to cut the budget but that the state has reached a point where further cutting would harm basic services.

The governor's budget calls for a series of tax increases including a phase-out of deducations and exemptions affecting roughly 20 percent of Maryland households. The administration estimates the changes would require a family of four with a taxable income of $150,000 to pay about $191 more.

Lawmakers including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller have said that phase-out starts at too low a level, affecting many middle-class Marylanders.

Altering that provision could be difficult, however, because it ties in with the governor's propoal to shift half of the cost of teacher pensions to the counties -- a measure Miller and other senators strongly support. In addition to helping balance the state budget, the phase-out of the exemptions and deductions would also produce piggyback tax revenues for the counties and Baltimore city to help offset  the cost of the pension shift.