Senate Republicans have called the assessment a "hidden tax" that breaks O'Malley's campaign promise.
"The adjusting of hospital assessments is not an unprecedented way to help close a deficit, not in Maryland and not across the country," O'Malley spokesman Adamec said.
Talk of increases driving you to drink? Grab a beer — but that, too, could cost you more.
For the first time in more than four decades, a legislative committee has given the green light to raising a tax on alcoholic beverages. A new, alcohol-specific surcharge on the 6 percent sales tax for beer, wine and spirits would notch up one cent on the dollar over next three years, reaching a 9 percent rate.
Since more than half of Marylanders drink alcohol regularly, the proposal, which was approved last week by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and is backed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, is projected to raise $30 million in new revenue next year and about $85 million a year once it is fully implemented.
Carrying out that liquor — or anything else — in a plastic bag could cost extra in some areas.
The full Senate gave initial approval last week to legislation that would add Prince George's County to the list of Maryland jurisdictions authorized to levy a tax on plastic bags from stores. Baltimore City and Baltimore and Montgomery counties already have that ability.
"I love it," Miller said. "We need this bag bill to pass."
The senate president, a Southern Maryland Democrat, would like a statewide bag tax, but that idea is stalled in a Senate committee. Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who chairs the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said she believes the cost would be too great.
"It is about the economy," Conway said.
Another set of fees would be felt in daily life. The budget approved by the House would double the fee for birth certificates from $12 to $24, raising a projected $4 million — based on figures such as the 75,000 babies born in Maryland in 2009.
Other increases include doubling titling fees for cars and trucks to $100 and doubling the every-other-year charge for a vanity license plate to $50. Together, those measures are projected to generate $50 million. Nearly a million Marylanders registered car or truck titles with the Motor Vehicle Administration last year. And 81,000 vehicles bear vanity license plates.
The House plan would also double land recording fees to $40, producing another $17 million.
Bus, light rail and train trips would cost more if the Senate follows the House budget plan, which requires the Maryland Transit Administration to raise its basic fares for the first time since 2004. The basic fare for bus and light rail is $1.60 but could go up 40 cents. MARC train fares vary by distance.
College students and their families would feel more of a pinch under the proposed budget. Expect a 3 percent hike in tuition at the sprawling University System of Maryland, where there are about 168,500 students enrolled.
The governor's budget anticipated that increase, which the Board of Regents is expected to make official late next month.
It's the second year in a row that tuition has ticked upward, after a four-year freeze aimed at making higher education more affordable.
O'Malley wants Maryland utility companies to invest in a wind farm about 10 miles off the coast of Ocean City — an idea that would generate about 500 megawatts of power but could cost more than $1 billion.
Lawmakers have chafed at the price tag, which would be paid by utility customers in almost every household in Maryland. The O'Malley administration estimated the average ratepayer would see his or her monthly bill go up by about $1.44, but other estimates are higher. In an attempt to salvage one of his signature legislative items, O'Malley has proposed a cap of $2 per month in the first year.
House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck Davis said his committee members "are very concerned about the cost to ratepayers. We have to work through that."
Davis said his committee would delve into the issue this week.
Adamec said the governor is "confident that the people of Maryland see offshore wind as an investment in the energy security of our state, and a major job generator for the people of Maryland."
The year's tax talk won't stop when the General Assembly ends work on April 11. Some legislative leaders want to further reduce the structural deficit and address persistent funding shortfalls to the Transportation Trust Fund when legislators reconvene this fall for a special session to approve a new congressional map.
"I'd like to get it all done," said Senate Majority Leader Robert Garagiola. The Montgomery County Democrat has proposed a 10-cent increase to the gas tax and a bump in vehicle registration fees to raise nearly half a billion dollars that would mostly be used for road maintenance and repair.
He acknowledged the plan is dead for this session, but he is considering resurrecting it in the special session.