O’Malley Mentions Potential For 2 Special Sessions

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The ice may be cracking in the House/Senate stalemate that ended the 2012 legislative session. Governor Martin O’Malley met with the leaders of both chambers Tuesday morning.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more.

The governor describes the meeting as congenial, but differences still exist.

Governor O’Malley met with the House and Senate leaders Tuesday, two weeks after a compromise on a state income tax increase fell apart and time enough for what has been called a cooling off period to take place.

“Cooling off is one way to describe it. Look, we’re kind of under the clock right now,” O’Malley said.

That ticking clock is illustrated in a model created by the State Education Association that shows how many days, hours and minutes remain until budget cuts take place.

“They were on the opposite side of the table. They were sitting next to each other, I mean they were right next to each other. I was like, this far away from them,” O’Malley said.

Kidding aside, school systems and county governments are eager for news, since nearly $512 million in cuts are at stake. As a taxpayer, you should be interested in how much avoiding those cuts will cost you.

The original Senate plan raises income taxes on everybody who makes more than $3,000. The original House plan puts a tax sliding scale tax increase on those who make $100,000 or more. The Senate had agreed to the House plan but the session ended before a vote.

“I would hope that this week, we’ll be able to get together and hash out what will be a final resolution for the coming year,” O’Malley said.

Expanded gambling was also abandoned in the final hour of the session. As a revenue raiser, Governor O’Malley says he would consider calling a second special session in August to get that issue on the November ballot since any changes to Maryland’s gambling plan requires voter approval.

The budget takes effect July 1.

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