The Maryland General Assembly failed to pass a revenue bill before its midnight deadline leaving behind the prospect of a so-called doomsday budget mandating deep cuts in services and state aid to counties.
“Despite the fact that we've been No. 1 in education four years in a row, despite our efforts to keep higher education affordable, the Legislature failed to adopt an operating budget,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “It's a damn shame."
He called it the low point of his experience in Annapolis.
“We are cutting by a quarter of a billion dollars what we invest in our children's future and our children's education,” he said. “We are cutting by 10 percent what we invest in higher education. We also failed our law enforcement officers on the front lines of fighting violent crime and saving lives."
“We've already asked every department with the exception of public safety and education in Prince George's County to cut by 5 percent,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said. “The doomsday budget would mean we go back to those departments and actually start cutting not only those departments but personnel. So it's devastating to us.”
State Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery County, said the doomsday budget hurts all counties, including his.
“All programs are going to be cut and cut deeply, and the county is already struggling to patch together its budget and it's going to lose state aid,” he said.
Another item that failed to pass the legislature before adjournment was the proposed Prince George's County casino with table games and slots at National Harbor. That dealt a surprising setback to Prince George's County.
"The gaming issue is about revenue,” Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker said. “It's about $69 million that will come to Prince George's County that will keep us from having to make really awful decisions that we're going to have to make."
Another important issue to be addressed: transportation congestion.
“And we never got to the issues about how we're going to finance infrastructure improvements in our region, and frankly, if we come back for a special session, I would encourage the Governor to put that on the agenda as well,” said Delegate Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery County.
Senate President Mike Miller is confident that a special session calling lawmakers back to Annapolis before June 30 -- the end of this fiscal year -- can solve the problems.
"We'll have a one- or two-day session and everything will be fine," he said.
O'Malley left Tuesday without publicly committing to calling a special session.
In order for the Prince George's County casino to be approved, it would have to be taken up at a special session and placed on the November ballot in a statewide referendum.