Local earmark bills won’t be cut

By Andy Rosen

Maryland lawmakers will continue to earmark state funding for specific projects in their districts, as Senate negotiators gave up on a plan to eliminate legislative “bond bills” for two years.

The Senate had voted in its capital budget plan to get rid of bond bills, worth $15 million this year, in the budgets for fiscal 2012 and 2013. The money would have gone toward school construction.

But the House disagreed with the move, and Senators appointed to a conference committee to resolve capital budget differences between the two chambers acquiesced.

Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange, D-Anne Arundel, who leads his chamber’s contingent in the conference, predicted a long debate on the measures.

“We’ll still be talking about this next year,” he said.

The deal came after House negotiators dropped a plan to eliminate the state’s $11 million legislative scholarship program. The money would have instead gone to the state for distribution through other student aid programs.

Lawmakers had acknowledged that the House and Senate were negotiating over the two programs, each of which is popular across the hall from the chamber that voted to eliminate it.

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