Busch, O'Malley Call For Budget Compromise
Budget bill must be passed by midnight or General Assembly will extend its session.
Gov. Martin O'Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch called on the Senate to compromise on a state budget in time for the General Assembly to end its session at midnight.
"The one constitutional obligation we have is to pass a balanced budget," said Busch, adding that House members assigned to the conference committee were prepared to complete negotiations.
"Because one chamber has an obsession with a certain issue, that they do not want to concur on the budget until that issue is resolved does not initiate any responsible stand for us not to deal with the budget that is in front of us," said Busch, speaking of a Senate effort to expand gambling to include table games and a sixth casino location in Prince George's County.
"They have 11 hours to comply and get the bill through the Senate and to the House or we do not meet our constitutional obligation," said Busch.
"This budget should have been passed three days ago," Busch said.
O'Malley seconded Busch and asked for both chambers to resolve their differences.
"We're down to the final hours of this year's legislative session," said O'Malley.
"The biggest question and the top priority, all of us would agree we have to resolve in the next 12 hours, is the budget," said O'Malley.
"I would really hope all the leaders both the House and Senate come together in a sense of mutual respect, conciliation and compromise in order to do the people's business," said O'Malley.
The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the year at midnight tonight. Failure to reach a budget agreement would require legislators to come back on Tuesday.
In reality, legislators do not have until midnight to complete their work on the budget. Rules require that the budget come to the floor in a printed form and Busch said that means a compromise would have to be completed by about 7 p.m. to allow for printing.
O'Malley said he is also hoping to work out a deal on a gas sales tax or penny increase to the sales tax that would be dedicated to transportation projects.
"That one will be a very, very tough lift in the next 11 hours," said O'Malley, speaking of either increase.