Senators Reject Budget

March 18, 1992

ANNAPOLIS — Carroll Sens. Charles H. Smelser and Larry E. Haines each voted against the fiscal 1993 budget bill, which passed the Senate yesterday, 30-17.

Budget appropriations were predicated on raising $247.5 million in new taxes. The tax proposal passed the Senate, 26-20.

"You can't support the budget bill if you don't support a tax increase," said Haines, a Republican. "I still think we should pass a balanced budget without tax increases."

Smelser, a Democratic memberof the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, says he opposes any newtaxes. He voted against the tax increase package in committee and supports deeper cuts in spending.

The Senate plan includes a $7.5 million reduction in state aid previously scheduled for Carroll.

TheHouse is working on its own budget proposal. The chambers are expected to work out a compromise.

The tax package includes increased levies on alcohol and cigarettes and an extension of the 5 percent sales tax to some currently exempt goods and services.

HAINES GUN BILL PASSES

ANNAPOLIS -- The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed, 6-5, a Maryland constitutional amendment sponsored by Carroll Republican Sen. Larry E. Haines that would protect individuals' rights to keep and bear arms.

If the bill passes the General Assembly, it will be placed on the November ballot as a referendum. The bill guarantees the right to keep and bear arms to protect oneself, one's family,home and state, and for hunting and recreation.

Courts have ruledthat the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms does not apply to individuals, but that states can grant that right.

LEARN FROM ADVERSITY

ANNAPOLIS -- A Carroll senator says he hopes legislators learn some long-term lessons from this year's decision not to spend state money for unneeded localprojects.

Sen. Charles Smelser, a Democrat who also represents Frederick and Howard counties, said legislative leaders think they should not be spending money for local projects that are seen as unnecessary in a year of spending cuts and budget deficits.

House and Senate fiscal leaders agreed that the estimated $15 million lawmakers would have taken home to their constituents to help build museums, theaters and community centers will be used instead to buy parkland and build schools.

"I think the public expects us to do this, and we have responded," said Smelser, chairman of the Senate's capital budget subcommittee. "Some of these projects certainly can be classified as worthwhile. But when you hear the words "pork barrel," there is a negative public perception."

While Smelser said the moratorium on local projects is probably a one-year affair, he hopes the experience this year will discourage legislators from asking for money in the future for projects that are frivolous or questionable.

"Hopefully, some discipline will come out of this," he said.

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