Governor: Md. gambling debate caused budget gridlock

Paul D. Shinkman,
Mark Segraves,

WASHINGTON – The governor of Maryland said Thursday that much of the gridlock in Annapolis that has kept the legislature from passing a budget is due to recent arguments over gambling in the state.

“We had a compromise and a consensus, and for some reason it broke down,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley, while speaking on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor.” “The legislature gridlocked in the final minutes.”

All Maryland politicians are to blame, he says.

There is “certainly” a breakdown between Speaker of the House of Delegates Mike Busch and State Senate President Thomas Miller, both Democrats, O’Malley says. He blames Miller for making gambling a priority of the Senate and “crowding out” transportation issues.

The proposed legislation, which failed in the General Assembly at midnight Monday, would have allowed table games at five casino sites currently allowed under law, and would have permitted such games at a new gambling venue in Prince George’s County.

The governor tweeted Thursday morning he would be open to calling a special session to pass the budget, which takes effect on July 1, if both chambers reach an agreement. He says everyone in the Maryland government is responsible for this situation.

O’Malley addressed recent concerns by county officials over speed camera enforcement at the county level, which does not carry any financial penalties for not paying on time. The governor says some at the state level have argued that allowing counties to increase those fines would turn these tickets from a law enforcement tool to a revenue generator.

He also says another Potomac River crossing, perhaps near Point-of-Rocks, is not likely in his term. O’Malley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had considered seriously the idea of that bridge earlier this year.

O’Malley’s successor might be able to build that bridge.

Check out these other highlights from the program, and a full live blog, below:

10:57 a.m., speaking about title fees going up:

I’m not aware of that going up.

10:56 a.m., speaking about requiring front and rear license plates:

The reason given is safety.

10:55 a.m., speaking about another Potomac crossing around Point of Rocks:

That won’t happen in my term. You can ask Gov. Anthony Brown when he takes office.

10:53 a.m., speaking about President Obama reducing the pledged amount of matching funds for Metro funding:

I’ve spoken to our congressional delegation, we’ll work through the federal process to restore those funds.

I think the president is under a tremendous amount of responsibility to put forward a budget that brings down the Bush deficit.

10:52 a.m., speaking about fines for texting while driving:

It generates about $6-9 million annually. The legislature could earmark that as a revenue source for transportation. But we need about $700 million for transportation issues.

10:47 a.m., speaking about state workers using state vehicles for personal use:

“The state fleet is one item of expense we watch.”

If you see somebody that’s on a “frolick and detour,” take the tag number and call them in.

10:46 a.m., speaking about Gov. Bob McDonnell’s chances as VP:

I like him personally. We have strong differences of opinion. We (in Maryland) don’t engage in culture wars, or rolling back women’s and worker’s rights. I don’t think much of his presidential prospects.

10:45 a.m., speaking about ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion:

There are some decisions government does not make very well.

Measures like that one are counterproductive. That’s why we don’t do them in Maryland.

10:44 a.m., speaking about same-sex marriage:

It will “likely” head to the voters now.

10:43 a.m., speaking about the Sixth District race:

We have a great candidate in John Delaney. (O’Malley supported his primary opponent Rob Garagiola)

I’m going to do everything in my power to see that he wins that congressional seat.

10:42 a.m., speaking about dedicating fines to transportation funding:

Since the fines in the workzones were implemented they have generated $18 million since 2009. Gas tax proposal would have raised $700 million.

10:37 a.m., speaking about the recent assault in Baltimore, where a man was stripped naked:

That was heart wrenching, but it isn’t the true Baltimore. I hope perpetrators are brought to justice.

10:35 a.m., speaking about Md. residents’ holding highest rate of student loan debt:

There are a few things we do that are important to our jobs and innovative economy, and the education of our people contributes to that.

We have one of the highest rates of PhDs.

We have a big problem in our country with the cost of education. Maryland was sixth most expensive college system in college, now we’re down to 23.

That’s jeopardized if the “doomsday cuts” occur in the legislature.

Learning online is the wave of the future.

Families can’t afford the expense of sending a kid away to school like Harry Potter going to Hogwarts.

10:32 a.m., speaking about campaign finance investigations in D.C. donor Jeffrey Thompson, who also gave to O’Malley’s campaign:

If there’s a need to return dollars, we will.

No federal investigators have reached out to my campaign.

10:26 a.m., speaking about a recent spike in foreclosures:

I don’t know why that happened in one month. The long term trend is driving foreclosures way down. Last month was the first time our median home values increased, compared to the year before.

We’ll continue to push the mediation to prevent foreclosures.

10:23 a.m., speaking about photo enforcement:

I’m generally in favor. Like anything, it’s a matter of balance.

It’s like so many things that were the product of compromise in the legislature. Many thought if the responsibility of increasing fees was left to the counties, it would become a revenue generator, not a law enforcement issue.

10:14 a.m., speaking about not spending enough time in Annapolis:

I’m used to a better standard of journalism than the columnists who have said that.

I’ve worked every day for this state. This legislative session was not representative of the last 6 years of work in this state, and of the beginning of this session.

Differences of opinion on gambling should not have kept us from passing a budget.

We’re going to continue to pay the price of increased congestion and traffic if we don’t address.

The president made gambling the priority of the Senate, which crowded out prioritizing transportation issues.

10:11 a.m., speaking about the legislature’s failure to pass a budget:

We had a compromise and a concensus, and for some reason it broke down, perhaps due to a lack of time or trust, or because one side anticipated a result that didn’t come forth from the other side.

It “certainly” is a breakdown between the speaker of the House and the Senate president.

We don’t have to raise revenues, we could let these cuts stand, but I think it would be bad for our state over the next years.

10:04 a.m., speaking about a special session for the General Assembly:

We had a session that was very productive on a lot of scores, the health of the bay, wastewater infrastructure, storm water runoffs, marriage equality, redistricting, “but the primary responsibility is to pass a budget that is balanced with revenues and expenditures.”

“We have had over the last three years to cut, cut, and cut again.”

The legislature gridlocked in the final minutes. Seemingly, the Senate was not able to pass the budget without gambling legislation.

We need to figure out how to address what the legislature failed to do, while the counties and school districts continue to plan their budgets.

It will no doubt result in having to raise tuition at University of Maryland schools.

The new budget takes effect July 1, if there were a clear consensus, it would be a simple process. We could come back in this afternoon.

WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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