Just How Big Is The Shortfall?
A divide emerged yesterday over just how large the potential state budget shortfall is.
Aides to Gov. Martin O'Malley continued to refer to next year's budget gap as $1.7 billion during hearings taking place on the special session's second day.
But the legislature's chief fiscal analyst, Warren G. Deschenaux, told lawmakers that the Department of Legislative Services now projects a $1.5.billion shortfall.
Deschenaux said that "$1.5 billion is the new $1.7 billion," referring to revised spending and revenue projections for fiscal 2009.
O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said later that the governor's office will continue to use $1.7 billion. "It's a matter of their estimates being a little different than our estimates," Kearney said.
Actually, the two branches are closer than they seem, because of rounding. O'Malley puts the figure at $1.667billion. The legislature has it at $1.523.billion, a difference of $144 million.
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