House GOP Announces Budget Proposal
House Republicans put forward a plan today to solve Maryland's fiscal problems without raising taxes, proposing instead to curtail planned spending on education and other programs and to legalize slot-machine gambling.
The plan calls for limiting overall growth in state spending next year to 3.5 percent compared to current projections of 8.5 percent. And Republicans would rely on $600 million from auctioning licenses to operate slots parlors at a half-dozen locations in Maryland.
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert) called the plan "a very credible, and in my opinion, very well thought-out alternative" to proposals from leading Democrats to raise taxes to help close a budget shortfall next year of nearly $1.5 billion in the state's $15 billion general fund budget.
But the Republican plan drew immediate criticism for Democrats for its lack of details. The plan provides targets for spending reductions in nine broad areas but does not spell out the implications on specific programs.
Spending on public education, for example, would grow by 2.3 percent next year under the GOP plan, instead of the 5.9 percent that budget analysts say is needed to keep pace with surging enrollments and the requirements of a landmark education law passed in 2002.
"They leave open the details to just how one reaches that solution," said Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who was briefed on the plan Tuesday night by Republican leaders.
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