Panel in Senate passes version of capital budget

April 03, 1991|By M. Dion Thompson | M. Dion Thompson,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- A Senate committee approved yesterday its version of Maryland's $330 million capital construction budget for fiscal 1992, leaving out $7.2 million for a Western Maryland golf course that House members want.

The proposed Rocky Gap Golf Course, which has had its ups fTC and downs for several years in the legislature, will be a prime issue when Senate-House conferees meet to work out their differences in the capital budget after the Senate gives its approval to the committee version.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, a member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said he couldn't accept the proposal to fund the golf course. "We felt that there were other programs more worthy than that," he said.

The golf course, which has been described as a way to bring economic development to Western Maryland, also has long-standing support from Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Though the House approved funding for the golf course, it also promised to withdraw that money if private-sector financing for an adjoining hotel-conference center had not been secured by Feb. 1, 1992.

Delegate Timothy F. Maloney, D-Prince George's, said he thought Senate legislators eventually would agree to fund the golf course.

"It would make no sense to waste all this valuable private and public effort to make this thing a reality," he said.

Other major differences in the Senate and House versions include $2.3 million for the Prince George's County Justice Center, included by the House but not the Senate, and $5 million for the Juvenile Services Capital Fund, included by the Senate but not the House.

The state continued to pour millions of dollars into its prison construction plan as both legislative houses included $8 million for a 420-bed minimum-security prison at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County and $7.1 million for a 192-cell maximum-security unit at the House of Correction inJessup.

However, both houses withheld $3.5 million for a proposed prison in Western Maryland. No site has been selected for that prison.

In addition to millions of dollars for major construction projects, the capital budget proposals also include millions of dollars for local projects that are the manna of individual legislators. The House designated $18.6 million for these projects, while the Senate targeted $15 million.

Again, there were differences, such as the House's sending $500,000 to the Prince George's County Equestrian Center, while theSenate didn't give a dime.

At the request of Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, the Senate put $300,000 into a county organization called Centers for the Handicapped Inc., while the House gave the group nothing.

Mark L. Wasserman, the governor's top executive assistant, said the Schaefer administration was troubled that undue political wheeling and dealing might have cost the state some important projects.

He noted that both houses rejected a $1.9 million proposal for a backup computer facility, that they set aside only $150,000 to put a new

roof on a state office building that the administration had requested $1.9 million to renovate and that almost $1.9 million was cut from community mental health programs, part of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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