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Maryland House gives preliminary OK to $39 billion budget, Senate sends capital budget to House

A $39 billion budget is headed to a final vote in the House of Delegates.

The House gave preliminary approval to the budget on Wednesday, agreeing to a move made first in the Senate to fill a budget hole by using $200 million that had been planned to strengthen the long-term financing of the state's pension system.

The House also gave preliminary approval to a companion bill needed to balance the budget for this fiscal year. The House is expected to cast final votes on its version of the budget bill as early as Thursday morning.

The House shot down more than 20 amendments proposed by Republicans on Wednesday to limit spending, including a plan presented by some House Republicans on Tuesday to decrease spending growth from nearly 5 percent to 1 percent.

Del. Tony McConkey, R-Severna Park, introduced the amendment, proposing the House accept the House GOP's plan.

The amendment failed by a wide margin, like nearly every GOP attempt to modify the budget on Wednesday,. Delegates struck down the amendment with a 95-42 vote against.

"We have a destructive addiction to spending, beyond our means, that has to stop," McConkey said.

The Senate voted 41-6 for its own version of the budget bill earlier this month.

Differences between the House and Senate's versions must be worked out before the end of final day of the General Assembly's 90-day session on April 7.

Senate sends capital budget to House

The Maryland Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to send an amended version of Gov. Martin O'Malley's capital budget to the House of Delegates.

The Senate voted 46-0 to pass the capital budget, Senate Bill 171. The capital budget now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.

After adopting the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee's amendments to O'Malley's capital budget proposal, the Senate gave preliminary approval to the capital budget on Tuesday.

The capital budget includes funding for many projects in Annapolis.

It would send $150,000 to the Board of Trustees of Historic Annapolis Inc. to renovate 1 Martin St. and $150,000 to The Light House Inc. for a project at 206 West St.

The capital budget approved by the Senate would also send $1 million to the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Domestic Violence Shelter to construct a new shelter.

The Senate's version also would provide $250,000 for security upgrades at the State House Complex in Annapolis.

But the Senate moved to cut out two $700,000 grants that were supposed to go to Annapolis and South River high schools.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, vowed on Tuesday to restore that funding.

If the Appropriations Committee and full House of Delegates can't agree with decisions made in the Senate, a conference committee including members of both chambers will be appointed to resolve the differences.

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