The shrinking budget battleground
A bipartisan committee of the General Assembly gave itself some wiggle room today as it prepares to try to trim from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr's (R) budget of popular programs.
Based on better than projected revenues, the chief legislative analyst Warren Deschenaux told lawmakers they could afford to spend $150 million more than they anticipated back in December.
That means Democratic leaders will look to cut about $100 million from the governor's budget, instead of the $250 million they thought they would have to slice to keep spending in line with an annual measure known around Annapolis as "spending affordability."
But don't think Democrats were jumping for joy when they left the meeting.
"We're not where he is," House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said of the governor's budget, "but we still have to cut."
With mandatory spending for public schools and Medicaid accounting for a big chunk of the budget, Busch said the major places to find savings would be local government and higher education.
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