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Senators, Delegates grapple with how to address upcoming budget issues

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Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 17:22:23-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — In Annapolis there's no shortage of different opinions. Dealing with the state's budget shortfalls is no exception.

House leadership is hoping to pass revenue increasing measures this year.

"Absolutely, we need revenue," said Delegate Ben Barnes outside the House chamber Friday.

The House's main issue is Senate President Bill Ferguson has been against legislation that raises taxes.

"The overall message is that [while] revenue is still increasing in the state of Maryland it is not increasing at the pace our economy is growing which is something we're going to have to tackle in the years ahead," said the Senate President at his weekly press availability.

Democratic Delegates have proposed multiple bills that would raise taxes in various ways.

Their approach is to get something done this year to increase the money coming into the state whether it's through tax or fee increases.

"It's no question we're facing a $3 billion shortfall in our general fund, that is mostly used to support public education. Three billion dollars in cuts in public education would be draconian, every family would feel it," said Delegate Barnes, a Democrat representing Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties.

Barnes left it up to the committees to figure out how exactly to increase revenues.

The Senate President is supporting some targeted fee increases.

"We have some fees that are being looked at in order to fund our trauma system which costs are exceeding available revenues," said Ferguson, a Democrat from Baltimore City.

The Senate's version of the budget is expected to be debated on the floor next week.

Republicans have been against any tax increases this session.

"There appears to be an appetite by the majority party to increase taxes. This is not the time for that," said Republican Delegate Jesse Pippy in a statement.

Governor Wes Moore has maintained the bar to raise taxes will be extremely high.

The Senate President asserted Friday the budget will get passed, balanced and on time this session.