Senate budget proposal fine-tuned Plan is similar to House version

March 20, 1993|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee put the finishing touches on its version of the state budget yesterday, cutting slightly less than the House of Delegates did from the proposal by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

The Senate committee called for $208 million in cuts from the administration's $12.7 billion budget, while the House, in the spending plan it approved on Thursday, asks for a $220 million reduction.

Though there are some significant differences between the two proposals, there is much more similarity, setting the stage for a smooth resolution after three years of often heated budget-balancing battles.

Both the Senate committee and House plans bring in a balanced budget, assuming a conservative 2.5 percent growth in the state's economy.

Both kill the governor's proposed voucher program that would have given Baltimore youngsters money to attend private schools.

And both fully fund the governor's $1 million family planning initiative that will, among other things, offer Norplant, condoms and vasectomies to low-income residents.

The Senate committee's plan will be presented next week to the full Senate, which may amend it before giving final approval later in the week.

Then a conference committee will resolve differences between the House and Senate measures.

"It's nothing that can't be worked out," said Sen. Laurence Levitan, the Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the Budget and Taxation Committee.

"It will be simple compared to what we've been through the last couple of years."

Here are some ways the Senate committee's proposal differs from the one passed by the House of Delegates:

* The Senate proposal does not threaten to withhold $4.8 million in state aid to Baltimore schools.

* It retains full $10.4 million funding for Maryland's Tomorrow, a dropout prevention program the House wants to cut by nearly $3 million.

* It cuts nearly a fourth of the $8.4 million administrative budget for the University of Maryland system's Board of Regents, a move that has caused the board to threaten a mass resignation.

* It uses somewhat different estimates for the amount of money that will be needed to fund the state's Medicaid and welfare programs, but like the House plan, does not propose changes in those programs.

* It reduces the $26 million program of state aid to private colleges by only $86,000, compared to a House reduction of $2.1 million.

* It includes early retirement language designed to eliminate 300 positions and save $8.2 million, an action that has drawn a gubernatorial veto in the past.

* It eliminates 724 more state positions than recommended in the governor's budget, about 100 more than the House called for.

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