ANNAPOLIS – Legislative Democrats won’t be telling Gov. Parris N. Glendening to redo his budget anytime soon, even though their GOP colleagues claimed it’s the only way to deal with the flawed document.
“It is our responsibility to deal with the budget and this is what we’re going to do,” said House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany.
But Republicans called a news conference Wednesday to say the budget was so irresponsible that the only way to fix it would be to start over from scratch.
“Tinkering” won’t fix the problems, said Delegate Robert L. Flanagan, R- Howard. Although the General Assembly must approve the governor’s budget, it may only cut, not increase or shift, funding.
“It is clear to us that this budget violates the constitutional spirit of a required balanced budget,” said House Minority Leader Alfred W. Redmer Jr., R- Baltimore County.
Fiscal analysts projected the governor’s $22 billion 2003 budget will leave a $1 billion deficit for the next governor. Glendening’s plan relies on rescinding the state income tax cut, dipping into program reserve funds and underfunding Medicaid to balance the budget, analysts said.
Although many top Democrats have criticized the budget proposal, few seem willing to take the move proposed by Republicans.
Under a House rule, a delegate can request to bring a bill out of committee and to the floor for voting if the motion is seconded and approved by a majority.
That move is unlikely, said Sen. Robert R. Neall, D-Anne Arundel. The Budget and Taxation Committee member admitted there were things he didn’t like about the budget but said there was a process in place to work those out.
House Appropriations member Thomas E. Dewberry, D-Baltimore County, agreed but welcomed Republican input into balancing the budget.
Forcing the budget out of committee prematurely would be unprecedented, Flanagan said.
While Republicans critiqued many areas of the budget, they had few suggestions for improvement.
Leaders mentioned Glendening’s environmental programs and race track and football subsidies as possible cuts, but did not propose any significant areas to find more revenue.
Glendening said his budget is fiscally responsible in tight times.
Although Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to fix the budget, they have largely agreed on preserving the final 2 percent cut in the state income tax. The trim is the final phase of an overall 10 percent reduction that was passed in 1997.