Counties, city prepare to take the next funding hit Leaders lobby for aid cuts

October 16, 1992|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Staff Writer

Key lawmakers scrambled yesterday to drum up support for cutting $147 million in state aid to local governments during a day marked by the tension and frenzy usually reserved for a legislative session.

Although the General Assembly is not meeting this month, Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr. spent the day in his Annapolis office counting votes and lobbying the rank and file on behalf of the budget-balancing plan.

Meanwhile, staff members of House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. called delegates to tell them it is not certain they will meet in special session Nov. 9 to consider the plan.

"The speaker is not committed to a special session until he has enough votes to pass the plan," said his legislative assistant, Susanne Brogan.

The plan for cutting local aid, which was announced by Mr.

Mitchell and Mr. Miller Wednesday, calls for shifting the responsibility of paying Social Security taxes for teachers from the state government to local jurisdictions. The proposal is part of a broader plan to eliminate a projected $450 million budget deficit.

Teachers and some local officials are already denouncing the proposed cut in local aid as a cut to education.

Both the president and speaker said yesterday they believe they can round up the votes needed to pass the proposal, but they conceded it will be difficult.

"We've been looking at the roll call, and it won't be easy," said John Pica, chairman of the Senate delegation from Baltimore. "There may be a filibuster, and if that's the case, it will make it even more difficult."

The Senate needs 24 votes to pass a bill but 32 to stop a filibuster, he noted.

The support of Baltimore lawmakers will be crucial to getting the proposal through the legislature since Montgomery County legislators adamantly oppose it and some from Prince George's County appear likely to join them. Those three jurisdictions constitute a major voting block that can make or break any bill.

"We can't lose Montgomery and the city at the same time," Mr.

Miller said.

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