OPINION: Special Session To Address Budget Concerns Seems Likely - Southern Maryland Headline News

OPINION: Special Session To Address Budget Concerns Seems Likely

By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson, District 29

You may have heard that there is a possibility that the governor will be calling the legislature back to Annapolis for a Special Session perhaps in November or earlier, to address the nearly $1.7 billion deficit the State of Maryland is facing.

The blame game for the reason why we are in this financial predicament has already started, but I prefer to focus on the positives. There are way too many factors why the legislature will be addressing this deficit to go into detail. The fact that some legislative leaders and the governor want to have a Special Session shows that they want to get a handle on this situation and try to solve it sooner rather than later.

Special Sessions are rare. We had two under Governor Ehrlich to address medical malpractice and rising energy rates. These were relatively short Sessions that took a few days.

I do not see this happening if we address the budget in a Special Session. While there have been several news reports about various tax increases and cuts, nothing concrete has been presented to the Senate.

Besides Special Sessions, the regular yearly General Assembly Session always begins on the second Wednesday of January and lasts through the second Monday of April unless the governor extends the Session.

The Maryland Constitution, as mandated by the voters, sets the term of the General Assembly Session which is 90 days. The Constitution also states that the Governor must submit a balanced budget within those 90 days.

One reason a Special Session regarding the budget has been talked about so extensively is that it is the most important piece of business we take up during the 90-day regular gathering of the House of Delegates and the Senate from January to April.

If we do not come up with some compromise on the budget in late October or November, very little will get done during the regular Session.

While Governor O'Malley and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., have advocated for a Special Session, my friend, House Speaker Mike Busch has been a little more reluctant.

Since the House of Delegates has three times as many members as the Senate, it is the largest body of the bi-cameral legislature. The governor will have to do a lot of negotiating not only with Speaker Busch, but the majority and minority leaders of the House to make sure we don't convene in Annapolis and come away with nothing to show for our efforts.

As I have mentioned, no formal presentation has been made to all members of the Senate. That is expected in a couple of days. Even a real decision on whether to have a Special Session hasn't been made although it seems likely.

I have received several calls, letters and e-mails regarding some of the governor's and some legislative leaders' ideas for addressing the deficit. I encourage your input. Please call my district office at (301) 994-2826 or my Annapolis office at (800) 492-7122, ext. 3673. You can write me at P.O. Box 229; Great Mills, MD, 20634 or e-mail me at Roy.Dyson (at) senate.state.md.us. Please include a recognizable name or subject matter in your e-mails such as "budget" or I can not open them due to the threat of a virus.

I also encourage you to contact Governor O'Malley by mail at: The Honorable Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland, State House, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401; by phone at (410) 974-3901 or (800) 811-8336; Maryland Relay (800) 735-2258; or by fax at (410) 974-5152. The governor's website is: www.governor.maryland.gov.

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