The Maryland Legislature failed to pass a budget before it ran out of time and adjourned earlier this month and now faces a so-called "doomsday" scenario with deep cuts in services and personnel if the governor doesn't call a special session before July.
Gov. Martin O'Malley met with state lawmakers Tuesday but failed to reach an agreement to resolve the impasse.
State Senate President Mike Miller and House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch smiled as they arrived for a breakfast meeting at the governor's residence, but by the time they left an hour and 15 minutes later, there were no smiles as they announced they have more work to do on a budget before the governor will OK a special session.
"I have to take the opportunity now with leaders of the House to see if there's a coalition we can build to come back for a special session," Busch said.
O'Malley left Annapolis for Baltimore, where he spoke at the State Board of Education and later said he favors a special session focused exclusively on passing a budget.
"The likelihood is that we probably have to pass the budget separate and apart from issues of gaming in Maryland,” he said. “And we need to resolve these budget issues quickly."
The governor said the issue of authorizing slot parlors to offer table gaming and authorizing a sixth site for a casino in Prince George's County could be taken up later this summer.
"I take him at his word,” Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker said. “He certainly got his hands around this issue. He wants to deal with the budget. I take him at his word he's going to come back and deal with the gaming issue."
Because any gaming initiative requires a statewide referendum, the whole issue could be delayed until the election of 2014 unless the General Assembly meets in special session about gaming by the end of August.
"If we're able to resolve the budget in May, and then come back say in early August to resolve the open questions on gaming, that would be enough time for it to be on the ballot in the fall," O’Malley said.