Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch met with Gov. Martin O'Malley Tuesday morning but did not reach final agreement on the scope or date of an expected special session of the General Assembly to deal with the budget issues left over from the regular sesion that ended April 9.
Raquel Guillory, the governor's press secretary, said the meeting was "productive" and that there was a consensus that the target date would be mid-May and that the focus of the special session would be on budget issues. Later in the morning, O'Malley told reporters in Baltimore that he was open to the idea of a second special session in August to deal with the issue of expanded gambling in Maryland.
O'Malley has said he believes the gambling issue prevented the House and Senate from coming together on a budget deal in the final days of the Assembly session.
Miller and Busch arrived separately at Government House in Annapolis shortly after 8:30 a.m. and left about an hour later. When they emerged, neither said much about what was discussed. Miller said he still hopes and expects there to be a special session to avert about $500 million in cuts to popular programs such as education and health. Busch said he needed to meet with members of his House leadership team to discuss the issues that might be addressed in a special session.
The speaker said he hopes a special session could be called by mid-May. That timing would give local governments an answer to the question of how much state aid they can expect in time for them to make budget decision by their June 1 deadlines.
Busch sidestepped questions about whether the issue of expanded gambling, which threw the legislative session into turmoil during the final days of its regular session, came up in the meeting.
"I'm concerned about the budget of the state of Maryland," he said.
O'Malley's public affairs director, Rick Abbruzzese, said he expected the three -- all Democrats -- to meet again but that no date had been set. He said discussions would continue at a staff level.