General Assembly adjourns, passing ‘doomsday’ budget without tax hikes

By Len Lazarick and Megan Poinski

The members of the General Assembly passed a $35.6 billion balanced budget as they were required to do by midnight Monday. But without the income tax hike they failed to enact, it is the doomsday budget that contains $512 million in additional cuts, much of it to education.

A clearly angry Gov. Martin O’Malley told reporters the General Assembly failed to protect the priorities that state voters expected them to do. But in a brief press conference, he did not announce he would call a special session, as the Senate and House leaders expect him to do.

“There was 90 days to work all this out,” O’Malley said as he walked away.

(Video by Dan Menefee)

O’Malley, Busch blame Miller and gaming

O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch both blamed Senate President Mike Miller’s insistence on a gaming measure for Prince George’s County for holding up action. But others, including delegates and senators on the conference committee, said the hard philosophical positions on both sides played a role.

“I feel terrible about [the session],” Busch told reporters.

The gaming bill, which passed the House Ways and Means Committee Monday afternoon, never came to the House floor.

The House never brought up the tax hike that the House and Senate negotiators agreed to around 8 p.m. An unhappy group of senators had given into adamant delegates over the form of income tax hikes.

The House version raised less money than the Senate, increasing rates by .25% on individuals making more than $100,000 and lowering their exemptions.
“We certainly have changed our position … for the sake of averting difficult cuts,” said Senate Budget and Taxation Chairman Ed Kasemeyer. “It is a somber moment for us. … We’re not real happy.”

The revenue package was on the Senate floor as the clock struck midnight. But there was none of the balloons and confetti that usually marks the end of session in both houses.

“We did the best we could,” Miller said. He admitted that there would be many constituents that would be happy about the drastic budget cuts.

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin said, “We’ve done what we needed to do. Let’s go home.”

The cuts include over $200 million to K-12 education and $63 million to colleges and universities. State employees would not get a 2% cost of living increase ($33 million) and agency operating expenses would be cut 8%.

House tries to extend session

Maneuvers to extend the session at the last minute – including a vote in the House of Delegates about 15 minutes before midnight to keep the session going for five more days – were not successful.

As the clock turned to 11:59 p.m., Speaker of the House Michael Busch realized that adjourning the session was inevitable and left the session on an unfinished note.

“If the governor does not call you to a special session, we stand where we are,” Busch said slowly from the podium.

The budget had been at a stalemate for more than a week, with slow and excruciating negotiations to try to come to an agreement on the right mix of tax increases and exemption cuts to increase revenues.

House Majority Leader Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery, explained that the extension would be necessary for the General Assembly to have a “sensibly balanced budget.”

The uncertain conclusion to the session seemed to be the logical finish following a week of finger pointing and blame for dragging out the process.

“It’s pretty evident that our counterparts in the Senate slow-played the revenues and the budget so they were not available to be voted on,” Busch said moments after adjournment.

Busch said that he would talk to Gov. Martin O’Malley about the possibility of calling the General Assembly back to a special session, though not necessarily right away.

By reverting to the “doomsday budget,” O’Malley said that the General Assembly ended up making some of the largest cuts to education funding in years. Instead of focusing on what the people of the state wanted, he said that they put those priorities aside.

“Our republic was not built on gambling gimmicks, bingo games or bake sales,” O’Malley said. “If we want a better state for our kids, we have to come together and protect our achievements.”

O’Donnell blames Democratic leaders

A weary House Speaker Michael Busch talks to reporters after session.

A weary House Speaker Michael Busch talks to reporters after session.

House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell blamed O’Malley and the Democratic leaders.

“We screwed around on same sex marriage forever, and we delayed, and we messed around, and then we got the governor floating a new tax idea every other day,” O’Donnell said.  “O’Malley failed to provide leadership. It shows how the Democratic majority and the administration have mismanaged this state right into the ground.”

“This is really uncharted territory,” O’Donnell said. “We have a budget with contingent cuts that will go into effect, which means there will be a lot less spending right now than was originally proposed by the governor and the General Assembly.”

Although O’Donnell had repeatedly called to rein in spending during the session he said he was not happy that the “Doomsday Budget” was triggered by a failure to pass the  administration’s budget.

“The House Speaker and the Senate President couldn’t get along and they didn’t run these bodies and these chambers to get the work done, it’s unfortunate and indicative of the fact that this place has been mismanaged for a long time, and tonight we saw the ultimate manifestation.”

Daniel Menefee contributed to this report

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. USMCJock

    A bizarre incident took place during the 60 Minutes interview
    with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on New Year’s Day: When
    Leslie Stahl asked Rep. Cantor whether he would be willing to compromise
    with President Barack Obama to improve the legislative performance of
    the current Congress, Rep. Cantor responded: “Compromising principles,
    you don’t want to ask anybody to do that. That’s who they are as their
    core being.”

    When Stahl replied that President Ronald Reagan, Rep. Cantor’s
    “idol,” had compromised, Rep. Cantor stuck to his guns, replying, “He
    never compromised his principles.”

    Stahl, at the ready, answered, “Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to raise taxes.”

    Rep. Cantor, slightly flummoxed, came back with “Well, he — he also cut taxes.”

    And here things got interesting.

    Rep. Cantor’s press secretary, Brad Dayspring, began yelling from off
    screen, “That’s not true. And I don’t want to let that stand.”

    Stahl, in a taped voice-over, later added in the mildest language
    imaginable, and without any personal aspersions cast — “There seemed to
    be some difficulty accepting the fact that even though Ronald Reagan
    cut taxes, he also pushed through several tax increases, including one
    in 1982 during a recession.”

    President Reagan’s voice was then heard to say, “Make no mistake
    about it, this whole package is a compromise,” followed by Rep. Cantor,
    doubling down, “We as Republicans are not going to support tax

    The interview has generated a great deal of attention in the
    blogosphere. ThinkProgress jumped on it immediately, noting that
    President Reagan did not “compromise” just this once, but actually
    increased taxes “in seven of his eight years in office, including one
    stretch of four tax increases in just two years.”

    The site quoted the Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman, noting
    that “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many

    The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen pitched in with his
    observation that the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982,
    which was Reagan’s biggest tax hike, is today “generally considered the
    largest tax increase — as a percentage of the economy — in modern
    American history.”

    Moreover, says Benen, “between 1982 and 1984, Reagan raised taxes
    four times, and as Bruce Bartlett has explained more than once, Reagan
    raised taxes 12 times during his eight years in office.”

    Benen believes that President Reagan’s legacy makes contemporary conservatives “look ridiculous.”

    On MSNBC’s The Ed Show, Washington Post columnist Ezra
    Klein took a stab at explaining why this must be the case, noting that
    the grand poobah behind the “Reagan Legacy Project,” and so much
    right-wing political thinking and organizing today, is Grover Norquist,
    who “has a vested interest in promoting the myth of ‘Saint Ronnie the
    Tax Slayer’ to justify his ‘no new taxes ever’ ideology.”

    This is true, but it misses what is really strangest about this incident.

    It is actually unheard of for a press secretary to attempt anything
    like Dayspring’s interruption, especially in so high profile a forum as 60 Minutes
    and with a boss in as influential a position as Rep. Cantor. (It is
    especially crazy to do so in one in which the editing process allows the
    correspondent to have the last word.) To do so with a bald (and easily
    demonstrable) falsehood would be under almost any imaginable
    circumstances a firing offense, as it makes both men, politician and
    aide alike, appear uninformed, incompetent, and generally out to lunch.

    Rep. Cantor’s office did attempt to “clarify” Mr. Dayspring’s
    outburst, insisting that it “referred to the cumulative effect of
    President Reagan’s various tax increases and cuts, when added together.”

    Again, this is not the point. President Obama has lowered taxes more
    than he has raised them, and they are today lower than they were in
    President Reagan’s time. But you don’t hear conservatives crowing about

    No, the real story here is the vehemence of the conservative
    movement’s commitment to ignoring all forms of evidence that it finds
    inconsistent with its ideological preconceptions, regardless of
    circumstances or even consequences.

    Ironically, tendency to ignore inconvenient facts and unwelcome
    evidence is actually President Reagan’s true legacy, as I noted in The Nation back in 2000, before the current right-wing mania for President Reagan gained its full force.

  2. USMCJock

    The 1982 tax increase Norquist is excusing was the largest peacetime tax
    increase in American history, and calling it the “biggest mistake” of
    the Reagan presidency requires ignoring the fact that it was immediately
    followed by “exceptionally strong”
    economic growth and falling unemployment. And if the 1982 increase was
    Reagan’s biggest mistake, he didn’t show much contrition during the rest
    of his presidency — he went on to raise taxes in seven of his eight years in office.

  3. USMCJock

    We cannot become a fascist republican regime like all of the red states who are on federal welfare.  If republican policies work so well, why are all of those red states broke?  Fascist republican policies do not work…at all.  Reagan raised taxes 12 times. Fascists will ever, ever, EVER type this in one of the blog comments.  It would admit that they are wrong.  The article clearly states that the survey that was done by Marylanders, wanted tax hikes. I know cuz I filled one out. No one should be happy with this.  The worst part is that when a special session is called, it will be charged to Maryland tax payers.  When this “idiot” is no longer governor; Brown will take his place.  There is no fascist republican party in Maryland, especially since unbelievably corrupt Ehrlich lost twice…even in a “fascist republican tsunami 2012 year!!!”  If fascists couldn’t win in Maryland in 2010, they ain’t gonna win.

  4. USMCJock

    We cannot become a fascist republican regime like all of the red states
    who are on federal welfare.  If republican policies work so well, why
    are all of those red states broke?  Fascist republican policies do not
    work…at all.  Reagan raised taxes 12 times. Fascists will ever, ever,
    EVER type this in one of the blog comments.  It would admit that they
    are wrong.  The article clearly states that the survey that was done by
    Marylanders, wanted tax hikes. I know cuz I filled one out. No one
    should be happy with this.  The worst part is that when a special
    session is called, it will be charged to Maryland tax payers.  When this
    “idiot” is no longer governor; Brown will take his place.  There is no
    fascist republican party in Maryland, especially since unbelievably
    corrupt Ehrlich lost twice…even in a “fascist republican tsunami 2012
    year!!!”  If fascists couldn’t win in Maryland in 2010, they ain’t gonna

  5. USMCJock

    A special session will be called. These cuts are a travesty to this Union state.  We cannot afford a fascist republican regime that tells us what to do and how to robotically act.  When O’Malley leaves, Brown will take his place. Maryland is and always will be a Democratic state. Thank God.  We cannot handle the types of policies that have decimated the red states.  All of them are broke and beg for fed tax money.   These cuts will be balanced with what the MAJORITY of Marylanders want….which was tax hikes against the rich.  Democrats are irritating the voters who put them in office and if they don’t call a special session, to fix this ridiculous Doomsday Budget, there will be hell to pay  The fascists will be forced to come back to session and negotiate. Get ready because it’s clearly not over. Anyone that thinks it is, is stupid and crazy.

    By Harold Meyerson, Published: May 17, 2011

    Okay. Just for the hell of it,
    let’s go after the debt and the deficit the Republican way. No new
    taxes. All through cutbacks. And I’ll confine my quibbles to a few
    parenthetical asides.

    To begin, then: We’re broke! We can’t afford any more taxes!
    (Well, America’s 400 wealthiest taxpayers certainly can. In 1955,
    according to the Campaign for America’s Future,
    the country’s 400 wealthiest taxpayers had an average income of $13.3
    million (in 2008 dollars) and paid 51.2 percent of that in federal
    income taxes. In 2008, according to IRS calculations,
    they had an average income of $270.5 million and paid 18 percent of
    that in federal income taxes. And in 1955, by the way, we could afford
    to pave roads.)

    Republicans’ concern over the growth of government is moral as well as fiscal. To quote the House Republican “road map” that accompanied the release of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget,
    “Americans were known and admired everywhere for their hopeful
    determination to assume responsibility for the quality of their own
    lives; to rely on their own work and initiative. .?.?. But over time, Americans have been lured into viewing government .?.?. as
    their main source of support; they have been drawn toward depending on
    the public sector for growing shares of their material and personal
    well-being. The trend drains individual initiative and personal
    To remedy this, House Republicans passed a budget
    that chiefly increases the opportunities for initiative and
    responsibility available to seniors by reducing their dependence on
    Medicare and Medicaid (which devotes two-thirds of its funding to
    nursing-home care). By converting Medicare from a guarantee of payment
    for medical care to a voucher to purchase insurance, the Congressional Budget Office calculated, the share of medical bills that seniors would have to pay themselves would rise from 25 percent to 68 percent.
    are right to aim big if they mean to reduce the deficit through cuts
    alone. By most measures, seniors are the major spongers on taxpayers,
    chiefly through their insistence on not working productively once they
    hit 65, 78, 92 or whatever. But for the sake of argument, suppose we
    don’t want to put that burden on our mothers, fathers, grandparents and
    ourselves. Where else can we identify a comparably large group of
    drainers of the public till?
    Happily, the Tax Foundation — a conservative Washington-based think tank — has, however unintentionally, provided the answer. In 2007, the foundation published a survey
    of 2005 federal spending in each state and compared that with each
    state’s contribution in federal taxes. In other words, the foundation
    identified the states that sponge off the federal government and those
    that subsidize it. The welfare-queen states and the responsible,
    producing states, as it were.
    The list, alas, hasn’t been updated —
    in part, no doubt, because conservatives didn’t like what it revealed:
    that those states that got more back from our government than they paid
    in were overwhelmingly Republican. The 10 biggest net recipients of
    taxpayers’ largess were, in order, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska,
    Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky
    and Virginia. The 10 states that paid in the most and got back the least
    were New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota,
    Illinois, Delaware, California, New York and Colorado.
    Now, that
    list has surely changed since the middle of the last decade — Virginia
    has probably gotten richer and paid in more; Nevada has surely gotten
    poorer and paid in less. But today’s ranking are probably much the same,
    unless farming and manufacturing suddenly pay more than finance and
    high-tech. Even allowing for cyclical variations and political
    transformations, it’s patently clear that the states that drain the
    government also constitute the Republicans’ electoral base, while those
    that produce the wealth constitute the Democrats’. Far from
    strengthening our moral character, the red states plunge us into the
    slough of dependency.
    If we’re really serious, then, about
    reducing the deficit entirely through cutbacks, the solution is clear:
    Cut off these slacker states. As we can’t very well expect them to
    support legislating an end to their slothful dependence on our
    sugar-daddy subsidies, the only real solution is to reduce them to
    vassal status, strip them of their congressional and electoral college
    representation, and compel them to pay what they owe America’s producing
    class. If need be — we can’t just go on passing the debt to the next
    generation — by force.
    Take taxes off the table and it’s either
    the South (and kindred sponger states) or the seniors. I say, the South.
    It’s time for bold choices. What don’t you understand? We’re broke!

    There is nothing at all wrong with
    assessing the amount of Federal tax dollars coming from states, compared
    to the amount of Federal tax dollars going into them. The fact that you
    don’t like what you hear is irrelevant.

  6. Bw Gatlin

    its about time that the taxes arent raised in this Republic of Maryland! Cant wait until that idiot is no longer govenor.

  7. Buzz Beeler

    And to think that this man wants to lead the country and live in the White House when he can’t take care of his own home.  The first rule of thumb is learn to balance your check book.

  8. Monica Good

    Oh yeah thats right….same sex marriage takes priority over the education needs of students.

  9. Mattm

    Cuts?  The doomsday budget is $400 million more than last year’s budget.

  10. rickthedick

     So we pandered to a portion of the citizenry to feel good because it couldn’t wait until next year, or later in the session.  This is the height of the instant gratification society, everything has to happen now, not in 5 minutes, not next week, RIGHT NOW.  Guess what, now this state is deeper in the hole because or elected “representatives” can’t prioritize tasks nor balance a checkbook.

    • corbindallas

      Instant gratification is living a lifetime through DOMA and DADT and now only starting to get some semblance of marriage rights in a few states?  Also, it could have taken less time if people simply didn’t oppose it.

      There’s also an economic argument to be made here.  More gay weddings means more profits for wedding businesses (caterers, hotels, restaurants, locations, bed and breakfasts, etc).  In these times, just as you say, we need to prioritize what can help us balance a checkbook.  All that income generated will be taxed and put towards the budget.

  11. JusttheFactsLady

    Mandatory cuts?  I say, “Yahoooooo!!!!!”

  12. abby_adams

    The superb handling of yet another MD state budget demonstrates the message so often uttered by taxpayers-TERM LIMITS. The Miller-O’Malley-Busch triumvirate has proven to be a total bust again. Instead of doing the people’s business reining in spending, these august leaders for a second year, expended their limited energies on social issues, windmills & creating a new income class, the high earner group. Now we’re faced with a special session, that will cost us millions, to finish extracting more taxpayer $$  to pay for budget increases while these leaders play the blame game. 

    The culture of corruption is alive & doing well on the Severn. I’ll be thinking of them with every flush!


    • Dale McNamee


        We already have “TERM LIMITS” …It’s called voting…But, to carry that out, a politically aware, knowledgeable, electorate is needed, instead of the seemingly apathetic and lazy voters we have… Just look at how much of the electorate votes in elections…It’s shameful !

      I keep on thinking of the phrase ” Representative Government ” and wonder if the Delegates and Senators are a true reflection of their constituents ?

       This goes for the US Congress & Senate as well !

  13. Bcpotter

    Again with the cutting of education and workers.
     And once again, the illegals are safe, the welfare queens are safe etc… Find the money to cut in social services, if someone is going to be hurt by losing income suddenly, Should it be a teacher or a policeman or fireman? people that produce and help forward our state, or should it be someone that collects taxpayer money and gives nothing in return.


    • Dale McNamee


        I agree with your sentiments mostly, but there’s one thing that needs to be clarified… The hiring of police & fire personnel and the hiring of teachers are done at the local level, based on county or city budgets. My wife is a volunteer firefighter/EMT ( Howard County ) and part of the volunteer fire department funding comes from a “fire tax” on home and business owners and fundraising, along with what the county funds.

        This may not be the case in other counties…

        The fire, police, and teachers are always “trotted out” when fiscal prudence is mentioned to shame us because we taxpayers/ subjects” dare to think that we should keep more of our money !

        As for teachers…One should look at the number of “administrators” per teacher and the palatial school board buildings…

       I DON’T WANT to continue that type of spending !

      • USMCJock

        So you want the tax hikes, when it serves your wife?  Pathetic. Hypocritical. Predictable fascist.

  14. Imattice

    I don’t see why anyone is surprised. This state is perfect example of how the “tax and spend” mentality is an utter failure. The government wants to “provide” all of these “essential” services to “those in need.” And in order to pay for these services, the “more fortunate” among us are supposed to help out more by footing the bill. In case you haven’t realized, $150k in Maryland isn’t a whole lot!

    • abby_adams

      Just a thought, what happens when taxing these high $150,000 couples & the millionaires doesn’t generate enough revenue? We all know. They will move down the food chain to feed the nanny state beast adding even more taxes, tolls & fees unless they are defeated at the ballot box.

      • Dale McNamee


          Your statements are correct ! As for generating revenue…What would happen if the $ 150,000/yr. couples and millionaires leave the state ?

          There aren’t that many of them left here… Not with this “hope & change” economy and a state government full of over-fed, pampered, morons !

           The possible good news is that the State employees who make $ 100,000 & up will have to “pay up”…Or will they ?


      • USMCJock

        Appearing on the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday
        night, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) experienced an awkward
        moment when he was challenged to admit that his hero, President Ronald
        Reagan, did in fact raise taxes.

        Cantor was speaking with interviewer Lesley Stahl, who asked if he
        was ready to start compromising with Democrats on taxes. Cantor said he
        was indeed “ready to cooperate,” but then hedged his response.

        “But what’s the difference between compromise and cooperate?” Stahl asked.

        would say cooperate is ‘Let’s look to where we can move things forward
        to where we agree,” Cantor said. “Compromising principles, you don’t
        want to ask anybody to do that. That’s who they are as their core

        Stahl then mentioned to Cantor how his “idol” Reagan compromised his
        principles by raising taxes during his presidency. Cantor tried to
        deflect the focus by mentioning that Reagan cut taxes, but Stahl
        reiterated her point.

        Upset at the reporter, Cantor’s press secretary yelled off camera, “That’s not true, and I don’t want to let that stand.”

        No matter if Cantor, his staff or conservatives at-large want to deny
        that Reagan raised taxes, what Stahl said is completely true.

        After his huge tax cut in 1981 slashed all tax rates to 23 percent,
        sparking a budget crisis, Reagan realized he’d also have to raise taxes
        in the years that followed. He raised taxes four times between 1982 to
        1984, increasing the payroll tax,
        broadening the base of Social Security payees, applying the income tax
        to higher earners and rolling back corporate and individual tax breaks.

        Reagan’s historic tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, whose rate
        went from 70 percent to 28 percent during his administration, ultimately
        forced the president to raise taxes on more people than any other U.S. president during a time of peace, according to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

        In total, Reagan raised taxes 12 times during his two terms in office.

        • abby_adams

          Mixing apples & oranges. As one who has lived through 9 different fed admin, my independent status says it all. Consistently increasing the spending results in the need for higher revenues. MD can’t print money to cover the Dem controlled legislature’s largess as the feds can. Additionally, MD is raising spending on an annual basis at least $1B a year, disregarding the declining economy; the drop in tax receipts collected; & the burden of  taxes, fees & tolls already increased to fill past years budget deficits.  A temporary rollback, say to 2008 levels, should be considered. Once the economy improves, restoring cuts can be considered. A common sense approach most taxpayers would agree with. Hanging the “doomsday” mantra on this budget is just more populist hype to scare the sheeple who voted these big spenders into office.

    • USMCJock

      Just a thought, why is it that all of the red states that are dominated by a fascist governor and a fascist legislature for decades….and they are broke and their constituents are furious?   Texas has a massive deficit of $36 Billion!!!  Every red state has massive deficits…and they have not raised taxes!!!  However, when the fires and droughts hit, Gov. Perry sent a “private” memo to Obama BEGGING FOR FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS FOR HIS RICH STATE RANKED #1 (AS THE RICHEST STATE IN THE NATION).   Why is Texas and the rest of the red states broke?  Why did Reagan raise taxes after his “Trickle Down Economics Fail”?


  15. corbindallas

    “We screwed around on same sex marriage forever”

    That’s a funny way to say “worked diligently on important legislation to secure equal rights for a significant portion of our citizenry”.

    Oh that’s right, you voted against that.

  16. Skip727

    Obviously Governor O’Malley has NOT been listening to the people of the state, I think less taxes and less spending during these times are what the citizens want. The governor must have been listening to the special interest groups who are funding his political career.

    • Bcpotter

      As Maryland citizens, If O’Malley runs for President in 2016, we have an obligation to the rest of the country to put as much effort as we can into making sure they know what he did to Maryland, we have to do our part to make sure he is never allowed to hold a public office again.


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