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More meetings, no progress on Annapolis budget standoff

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan met with top legislative Democrats for 25 minutes this morning to discuss the state's budget standoff, but the rift appeared to remain just as it was before.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch emerged from the meeting with green folders containing documents from the governor.

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Asked whether there was any progress, Miller replied, "Nope."

Busch declined to comment except to characterize the meeting as "cordial."

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Hogan offered no comments on the substance of the meeting, but called it "great."  Contrary to the views of the top Democrats, Hogan said: "I think we're making progress."

A Hogan spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the governor told The Washington Post the meeting was "good."

With just two days until Monday's midnight deadline to adjourn, the legislature convened in Annapolis for a weekend session to move a flurry of last-minute bills and possibly strike a compromise with Hogan.

Hope for that compromise to emerge on Saturday appeared to be waning as Miller and Busch returned to their chambers without a new deal to offer their members.

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Most of the governor's legislative agenda has been watered down or stuck in committees, and Hogan has told top Democrats he wants his entire legislative agenda delivered, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

Democrats, meanwhile, want Hogan to spend more money on education and prevent a pay cut for state workers, which the legislature voted overwhelmingly to do last month.

Rhetoric and posturing has been rising on both sides this week, as the governor took to Twitter to defend himself and Miller, often seen as a closer Hogan ally than Busch, issued his own public warnings that there would consequences if a deal wasn't reached.

The House of Delegates is scheduled to debate Saturday at least two of the bills Hogan wants passed: a tax break for military retirees and a law granting greater flexibility to charter schools. Both proposals were scaled back by the Maryland Senate earlier in the session.

Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this report.

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