House to look for solutions to $1.5 billion budget shortfall

The Baltimore Sun

House Speaker Michael E. Busch says leaders in his chamber will hold briefings over the fall on tax proposals and slot machine gambling in an effort to find solutions to Maryland's projected $1.5 billion budget shortfall.

The Anne Arundel County Democrat said he remains opposed to handling the budget problems in a special session, which Gov. Martin O'Malley and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller support. He said he is opposed to legalizing slots but will listen to the O'Malley administration's proposals on the issue.

"The House wants to look at a comprehensive solution to the budget issues," Busch said. "We're not interested in resolving things through a Band-Aid approach. The citizens deserve a comprehensive and final solution to the structural deficit as well as programs they deem are important such as health care and the environment."

Busch met for two hours yesterday with other House leaders. He said afterward that his chamber will develop a plan for solving the budget shortfall.

O'Malley, a Democrat, said last week that he has developed the parameters of his own proposed solution, which would include a combination of spending cuts, tax increases and new revenue from slots.

The governor said he will unveil his proposal within the next few weeks.

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