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O’Malley May Put Tax Hikes & Gambling On The Table In 2 Special Sessions

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Taxes and gaming. Governor Martin O’Malley appears to be lining up not one but two special sessions in coming weeks. One would be for taxes, and the other for expanded gambling.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the reason.

The two issues were lumped together at the end of the General Assembly session and locked each other up.

A bill to expand gaming in Maryland that crapped out in the last hours of the General Assembly’s regular session may come back in its own special session this summer.

“I think it’s fair to say that when this issue becomes, this issue of gaming becomes intertwined with the budget, that it makes consensus very, very hard to find on either,” Governor O’Malley told reporters this week.

A compromise on an income tax hike failed to get a vote in the Senate in the final hours of sine die at the same time a bill to expand gaming stalled in the House.

While Senate president Mike Miller insists one had nothing to do with the other, it is well known he wanted the gaming bill passed to put a casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

“It’s a tourist destination. It is not a shopping mall,” Miller told reporters the day after sine die.

The state’s biggest gaming facility is at Arundel Mills Mall, scheduled to open this summer.

Because of the way the law is written, opening an additional casino requires voter approval. Miller wants the issue on the ballot in November.

“It is a huge tourist destination. It is a moneymaker for the state of Maryland, and we need people to understand that,” Miller said. “It’s about the state of Maryland and solving the state’s budget crisis without additional taxation.”

The potential for Marylanders to pay less taxes is not easily dismissed, which is why there may be two special sessions this year.

“If we’re able to resolve the budget in May and then come back say in early August and resolve the open questions on gaming that would be enough time for it to be on the ballot in the fall,” O’Malley said.

There is no agreement yet on dates for either of those sessions.

The governor wants the General Assembly to raise state income taxes this year to provide $512 million in additional revenue to the 2013 budget.

The new budget takes effect July 1.

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