'Gun Center,' money to offset sequester cuts included in O'Malley's $222 million in supplemental budget

April 01, 2013|By Erin Cox | The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Martin O'Malley today released a $222 million supplemental budget that creates a "Gun Center," strives to save a baseball program and sets aside another $10 million in case federal sequestration cuts take a toll on Maryland.

The governor designated $300,000 for the Towson University baseball program, scheduled to be eliminated of funding problems, to survive another year while the school works on fundraising. Even though the governor already added $153 million to the state's rainy day fund with an eye toward what he called the "hara-kiri Congress," O'Malley added extra money.

The supplemental spending plan, which requires General Assembly approval, also includes money for bills the governor supports but have yet to garner final passage from lawmakers.

Among the line items:

  • $4.6 million to set up a “Gun Center” that hires 9 troopers and 20 office clerks to implement O'Malley's sweeping gun-control bill. The Maryland State Police have already tripled the workforce to accommodate a spike in gun sales, and the bill would call for licensing and fingerprinting for all handgun purchasers. The version passed by the Senate requires owners of assault weapons to register them with the state.
  • $5 million for mental health services, some of which O'Malley announced the same day he presented his gun-control bill. The "Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness" would get $1.2 million of that sum, expanding crisis response services would get $2 million, crisis intervention teams would get $1.5 million and something the administration calls "mental health first aid" would get $300,000.
  • $125,000 to start up the medical marijuana program that would administer the drug to patients through academic research centers. The House has passed the bill, but a Senate committee has yet to vote on whether to send it to the Senate floor.

The budget also includes money for bills that have passed, including $90,000 to hire someone to oversee the $1 billion Baltimore city schools construction program and $2.5 million for the new off-shore wind program. 

Both chambers of the Maryland legislature approved different versions O'Malley's initial $37 billion budget to which the plan released Monday supplements. The legislature has a week to pass a unified plan.

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