ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– The General Assembly may be less than two weeks away from returning to Annapolis.

Political reporter Pat Warren talks to leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate, and it appears they are close to agreeing on terms of income tax increases.

The great divide between the Senate and the House on an income tax package that set a doomsday budget in motion would require $512 million in cuts. Gov. Martin O’Malley appears close to bridging that gap after meeting with Senate leaders on Wednesday.

“We’re gonna shake hands,” Senate President Mike Miller said.

And he meets with House leaders on Thursday.

“I think, hopefully, we’re all gonna move in the same direction,” House Speaker Michael Busch said.

O’Malley told WJZ on Tuesday he believes things are on track for a consensus.

“We’re still talking. We know what the challenge is,” he said.

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

“The question is: How do you solve the deficit?” Miller said. “Not so much revenue raised but how do you get rid of the debt? You’ve gotta do it two ways– cut some revenues in just the right formula. We’re going to make it happen, OK?”

“I think things are progressing along and hopefully we have it all resolved by tomorrow afternoon and set a date for a special session, yes,” Busch said.

The target date is the week of May 14. The special session is expected to focus solely on the budget and last two to three days.

The governor is expected to call another special session on expanded gambling later this summer.


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