The state's teacher union said it would resist any K-12 cuts and is prepared to fight hard to make sure classroom spending isn't sacrificed. In Annapolis the group has significant muscle; last year it spent more than any other interest on lobbying.

Sean Johnson, the government relations director for the Maryland State Education Association, said he was "deeply disappointed" in the governor for proposing the pension shift.

"The real concern is it becomes a cut in local education funding," Johnson said.

Environmentalists were among the few advocacy groups with good words for O'Malley's plan, saying a higher "flush tax" would provide improvements to sewage treatment plans that would benefit the Chesapeake Bay.

Praise for the plan came from one usually gloomy source: Warren Deschenaux, the state legislature's top fiscal policy analyst. He said O'Malley's proposed budget comes as close as any in recent years to solving the long-term imbalance between state revenues and expenditures.

"They've been whittling, now they are actually sculpting," he said. "The question is, will people like the art?"

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