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Miller Seeks Start to Slots, Tax Debate

In an effort to jump-start the debate about Maryland's bleak fiscal outlook, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller today is introducing bills to legalize slot-machine gambling and raise the gas tax.

Miller (D-Calvert) said he expects neither bill to pass during the legislature's current 90-day session, but he said both would get hearings and generate discussion that needs to take place in advance of next year's budget deliberations.

"We're not going to go forward without the governor," Miller said after emerging from a meeting at the governor's mansion this morning that also included House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and other legislative leaders.

Both Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Busch have advocated putting off difficult decisions about looming billion-dollar deficits until next year.

Miller's slots bill would place 15,000 machines at four racing tracks and three other locations. He said it would generate $800 million a year for the state, which would be used for school construction and other educational needs.

His other bill would raise the gas tax by up to 12 cents, generating $400 million a year for transportation projects.

"People in Maryland have one of the longest commute times in the United States," Miller said. "We need to avoid what the state of Virginia has gotten to."

By John Wagner  |  February 28, 2007; 9:26 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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