O'Malley says he'll call next week for session

Republican Brinkley says he is willing to debate the governor on his budget proposals

October 12, 2007|By Jennifer Skalka and James Drew | Jennifer Skalka and James Drew,SUN REPORTERS

Gov. Martin O'Malley said yesterday that he expects to call a special session of the General Assembly and to introduce bills outlining his budget proposals early next week.

During an interview on WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show, the governor also criticized Republican lawmakers for obstructing his efforts to solve the state's $1.7 billion budget shortfall. Senate GOP leaders have said they would not support O'Malley's slot machine gambling proposal, expected to raise $550 million annually, during a special session.

"It's interesting our colleagues in the party of Lincoln have announced that they won't be supporting any tax reform measures, they won't be supporting slots even though many of them have voted for it time and again in the past, and they won't be advancing any cuts that they would be willing to vote for," the Democratic governor said. "One wonders how they are able in good conscience to take a paycheck from people to represent them if the only thing they're committed to is doing nothing."

Reached for comment, Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, a Frederick County Republican, said the governor "is being intellectually dishonest when he makes accusations of that type, and he knows it."

Brinkley offered to debate O'Malley on the budget.

"He wants a special session so he can ramrod a massive tax increase. He knows he is delinquent in sharing details with anybody. If anything, we are certainly exercising our responsibility and diligence to the taxpayers of the state," Brinkley said.

O'Malley has proposed increasing the state sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent, extending the tax to cover more services, changing the income tax structure so that high earners pay more and low- and middle-income filers pay less, increasing the corporate income tax rate from 7 percent to 8 percent, closing corporate "loopholes" and reducing the state's property tax rate.

He has also won the Board of Public Works' backing for spending reductions and proposed slowing the rate of growth of Thornton education spending.

As for slots, he has said he plans to model his proposal on a measure passed by the House of Delegates in 2005 that would have placed up to 9,500 state-owned machines at four locations - one each in Anne Arundel, Harford, Frederick, and Allegany counties.

Given the GOP's unwillingness to cooperate during a special session, O'Malley said he would consider putting the issue to a statewide referendum in 2008.

"That may be the only way we're able to resolve this contentious issue," he said.

jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com james.drew@baltsun.com

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