Republican lawmakers from the 36th District spoke against having a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to raise taxes and avert $512 million in spending cuts recently passed in the “doomsday budget.”
“The only “doomsday” that is coming is the special session,” said Del. Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil, at a Kent County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast on Tuesday. “That will be the only doomsday for the taxpayers of Maryland.”
The “doomsday” budget was crafted by lawmakers early in the regular session as a default budget, in the event the Democratic controlled legislature failed to agree on a package of unpopular tax increases proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
While the “doomsday budget” is $512 million less than O’Malley wanted, the $35.4 billion budget increases spending by $700 million over last year and represents a 2% increase in total spending, Smigiel said.
O’Malley’s budget called for an additional $1 billion in spending for fiscal 2013.
“A $700 million increase over last year’s budget, only in Maryland would that be considered doomsday,” Smigiel said.
O’Malley needs to raise an additional $300 million in revenue to meet his spending goals for fiscal 2013–and to stop the spending cuts from taking effect July 1.
“We will go back, because there is no way the majority party will allow the current budget to go through,” Smigiel said, begrudgingly. “What would happen is the emperor will be shown to have no clothes [and] we would see that we could live without [$300 million] in additional tax increases, and we would survive.”
The “doomsday” plan calls for an 8% cut in operating budgets of all government agencies, slashes 500 state jobs, and denies state employees a 2% cost-of-living increase for this year.
A special session aimed at tax increases will most likely be plagued by a contentious casino bill that Senate President Mike Miller made part of the budget negotiations. The House came up short on votes, which caused a rift between Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.
Miller was blamed for delaying a Senate vote on the tax increases to secure a House vote for a new casino in Prince George’s County. By midnight on April 9, the last day of the regular session, Miller would not bring tax increases to a Senate floor vote when he learned the casino bill was dead in the House.
“We had an agreement,” Miller said. “And we ran out of time.”
Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, said there is a “management problem” in Annapolis if the longest-serving leaders of both chambers couldn’t work together to pass a budget.
“I hope we don’t go back,” Jacobs said. “It’s only to pass $300 million in additional taxes, and I don’t think we need it.”