House Republicans present their alternative to Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget

Del. Gail Bates of Howard County and her fellow House Republicans present their alternative to Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget. (Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun / March 25, 2014)

Maryland House Republicans offered an alternative to Gov. Martin O'Malley's spending plan Tuesday, suggesting the state limit spending to 1 percent above last year.

The minority caucus, dramatically outnumbered in the House of Delegates, push an alternative budget every year. This year, House Republicans criticized the governor and state Democrats for diverting some pension payments to help plug budget gaps and for increasing state spending by 5 percent over last year. 

During an Annapolis press conference, several Republican delegates criticized the term-limited governor for the the growth of state spending during his tenure.  Del. Andrew A. Serafini of Washington County compared the state's financial obligations to that of alimony ordered after a divorce.

"The citizens of Maryland are going to have to pay O'Malley-mony for a very long time," Serafini said.

O'Malley's press secretary Nina Smith said in statement that the governor has kept college tuition low, spent records amount on education and navigated a fiscal crisis during his tenure, putting the state on track to close an annual budget gap that once stood at more than $1 billion.

Smith said governor's "record of achieving results in a fiscally responsible way speaks for itself."

The House of Delegates is scheduled to debate O'Malley's $38.9 billion budget tomorrow, a spending plan that contains no new taxes and a 2 percent raise for state employees. The Senate already passed the governor's budget earlier this month after slightly trimming it. 

Republicans plan to offer an amendment to the budget that would reduce spending, but it faces very long odds given that Republicans make up only 43 out of the chamber's 141 votes.