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Panel: Cap Md. Budget Growth To 4 Percent

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland legislative panel on Wednesday recommended that budget spending be capped at 4 percent growth for the next fiscal year.

The Spending Affordability Committee meets each December to make spending recommendations on the state’s general fund budget. It also recommended cutting the state’s projected ongoing budget deficit of about $362 million by $125 million.

Maryland is required to have a balanced budget on a cash basis each year, but the state has long had a structural imbalance projected in future years.

The recommendations are not binding on the governor, but the executive branch has come close to the recommendations in the past. The spending affordability process was put in place in 1982.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, who urged the panel to accept the 4 percent cap, noted there have only been four other years when the panel’s recommended growth cap was lower than 4 percent, including in 2009 and 2010, when the state was wrestling with the recession. Maryland lawmakers also have battled much larger structural deficits, which was as high as $2 billion several years ago.

The panel rejected a proposal by Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick, to cap spending at 1.9 percent growth.

The committee also recommended maintaining the state’s Rainy Day Fund at 5 percent of estimated revenue. The fund would be about $803 million for fiscal year 2015. Maryland’s estimated general fund for fiscal year 2015 is about $16 billion.

The governor is scheduled to submit the state budget for the next fiscal year in January. The General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 8, will work on the budget proposal for much of the 90-day session, which ends in April.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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