The annual session of the Maryland General Assembly starts Wednesday, and governor Martin O'Malley started outlining his top priorities for lawmakers today.
O'Malley announced he will set aside $370 million for school construction and renovation in the state. Eight years ago, a commission headed by state treasurer Nancy Kopp recommended that $250 million be spent yearly by the state on school construction, and O'Malley has exceeded that number each year he's been in office. Last year, school construction received an added boost as money from a hike in the state alcohol tax.
House speaker Mike Busch says that's unlikely to happen again.
"That was a one-year investment of $50 million," says Busch. "But that goes back into the general fund. $15 million will be dedicated to the developmentally disabled for those people on the waiting list. If the governor decides that after we go through the budgeting process if he wants to use some of the money in the general fund budget for projects, he can certainly do that."
While the alcohol tax hike was the largest such levy increased last year, other taxes could be raised in this year's session. O'Malley has said he will propose a jump in the gas tax this year as a way to fund transportation projects.