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Lawmakers Back In Annapolis For Special Session To Close Budget Hole

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Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Standoff at the State House. Lawmakers battle to hammer out a budget during a special session–and that could mean higher taxes for you!

Meghan McCorkell has more on the heated debate.

Lawmakers are trying to avoid what’s being called a “doomsday budget” that could mean sweeping cuts statewide.

An income tax increase is on the table as lawmakers try to avoid more than $500 million in cuts.

“We’re going to balance the budget. We’re going to save the counties from the disasters that would have befallen them,” said Senate President Mike Miller.

Opponents say the state needs to live within its means.

“Our governor is lying to the citizens by telling them we’re coming here to cut more spending. We’re coming here to raise their taxes and shift burden to local governments,” said Minority Leader Delegate Anthony O’Donnell.

Under the proposal, single filers who make $100,000 or less won’t see a change. A quarter percent increase will be enacted on every dollar over $100,000. That brings the tax rate up from four and a quarter to five percent.

“We don’t have to do this. We could instead choose to simply cut education, cut public safety, cut public health,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

Baltimore City schools are rallying against those cuts.

“Don’t balance this budget on the backs of me and my classmates. We deserve better,” said Breonna Rogers.

The school system could lose $22 million if a tax increase fails.

If the doomsday budget takes effect, Baltimore City school teachers could be forced to take four unpaid furlough days next school year.

“That’s four less days of education. That’s four less days of pay on the backs of our teachers,” said Shannen Coleman Siciliano, Baltimore Education Coalition.

Now they’re urging lawmakers to pass the tax increase to keep the funding in city schools.

The tax increase has passed preliminary votes in the Senate and will go to a final vote Tuesday. The debate in the House is expected to be more contentious.

Another bill to shift some of the costs of teacher pensions to the counties is also up for a vote in the General Assembly.

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