Hogan, Busch meet as budget conference drags

Gov. Larry Hogan and House Speaker Michael E. Busch met Tuesday to discuss their differences over next year's budget and other parts of the governor's agenda as negotiators for the House and Senate met briefly without reaching an agreement.

Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley said the Republican governor had a good meeting with the Democratic speaker, whose chamber has been the more reluctant of the two to accommodate Hogan on several of his priorities.


"I think it went well," Brinkley said. "Nothing was resolved, but they were in conversations."

Busch confirmed that he met the governor along with several members of his leadership team.


"We had a very candid discussion," he said.

Doug Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, said the two sides were "still fairly far apart."

Mayer said the topics included the governor's recent supplemental budget, the state pension system and items on the Hogan legislative agenda. Among those agenda items, he said, were charter schools, a tax exemption for military retirees, the storm water fees Hogan calls the "rain tax" and highway aid to local governments.

The meeting was held just before House and Senate negotiators gathered to hammer out a relatively small number of differences between the two chambers over a budget plan.

After the session broke up the chairs of the Senate and House conferees, Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer of Howard County and Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore,  met behind closed doors.

The House and Senate are facing a deadline of midnight Monday, when the 90-day session ends, to agree on a balanced budget. The budget bill does not require the governor's approval. But legislators want Hogan to restore spending to public education and some other areas he has cut, and that will not happen unless he agrees. The General Assembly can cut but cannot increase spending.