The Maryland Senate unanimously approved its version of Gov. Larry Hogan's $40.7 billion state budget Thursday after making modest changes from the House's spending plan.

The two chambers are expected to convene a conference committee next week to work out their differences.


The Senate budget package adopts most of the important changes the House made to the Hogan plan. Like the House, it does away with most of the governor's cuts to education formulas, including K-12.

The budget also restores a 2 percent cost-of-living raise state workers received in January but that Hogan proposed to rescind.

The main difference between the Senate and House plans is that the House removed Hogan's proposed 1 percent cap on education formula increases. The Senate kept the caps but raised them to 1.5 percent in future budgets.

The Senate acted after rejecting an amendment by Sen. Justin Ready, a Carroll County Republican, withholding money from the Maryland State Department of Education until it came up with a plan to let parents opt out of having their children take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Consortium (PARCC) test. Senators voted 31-15 to reject the attack, which is associated with the Common Core curriculum guidelines.

During the debate, senators on both sides praised the level of bipartisan cooperation in reviewing the budget.

"It's like the Age of Aquarius. All things come together," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Miller also delivered a rebuke to local governments in general, and Baltimore city.

"The counties have got to live within their means also," he said. "The counties and the city have got to look at their budgets as well."

Miller pointed to the provision of 10 months of sick leave in one jurisdiction -- an apparent reference to the Baltimore school system -- while others provide far less.

"We heard you," said Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat.