After its 90-day session in Annapolis, the Maryland General Assembly has adjourned without passing the revenue plan needed to avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts. Without a plan, the state faces a so-called "Doomsday Budget" relying on cuts the Legislature's Democratic leadership had hoped to avoid. Members of the State House have blamed the State Senate for the stalemate, citing retaliation for the House's refusal to act on a bill allowing a casino in Prince George's County.
Maryland Senate President Sen. Mike Miller (D) talked with WAMU Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey about the late-night end to the session April 9. Here are some highlights:
On why the General Assembly was unable to pass a revenue plan: "We had different ideas. This is not anything to be really pessimistic about," Miller said. "It's easy to cut. Any fool can cut. It takes a strong will and somebody that's committed to the state and the progress we've made to vote on revenues, which is just another word for taxes."
Where those differences on taxes fall: "The House said, 'Anybody making less than $100,000, we're not going to touch,'" Miller said, outlining where the Senate and House differed on the tax plan. "It's sort of like a campaign theme, the sound bites, 'we only want to tax the rich.' It was almost like class warfare, and we had a hard time getting people to compromise and come to a middle ground."
Whether the Senate held up the revenues package because of the House's failure to pass a Prince George's County casino bill: "That's not quite true. We reached an agreement on a package of four bills. Everyone was supposed to uphold their end of the bargain," Miller said. "And come crunch time the house wasn't able to get the votes … or they didn't bring the bill to the floor."
On why the Senate didn't go for extending the session past midnight last night, like the House wanted: "If you've got the votes, fine, but they told me they didn't have the votes for the package," Miller said. "What are you supposed to do, keep people all night if they don't have the votes?"
On the next steps: "I'm going to meet with the Governor this morning, and we'll hopefully pick a day or time, and we'll come back," Miller said. "This is not some catastrophic event. We will come together, we'll get the votes together, and hopefully we'll move in and get it done in a day or two."