Miller, Busch give hints of General Assembly session at Annapolis chat

The Baltimore Sun posted the article below about possible legislation at the upcoming General Assembly session:

Miller, Busch give hints of General Assembly session at Annapolis chat
Wed 02 Dec 2009
By Brian Witte
Associated Press

The state won't cut teachers to help deal with a $1.5 billion budget deficit next year, but school administrators and public relations employees may need to go, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Tuesday.

Miller spoke along with the Maryland General Assembly's other presiding officer, House Speaker Michael Busch, during a forum in Annapolis that included members of the public and about 60 midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy.

"We're not going to cut teachers as they're doing in California, New York and some other states," Miller said.

Maryland has largely protected education from budget cuts during the recession, particularly kindergarten through 12th grade. Gov. Martin O'Malley, who will submit the state's fiscal year 2011 budget to lawmakers in January, put superintendents on notice in October that they won't be as lucky this time, and he asked them to find ways to save money.

Miller, a Calvert Democrat, echoed that theme, but he was more specific in mentioning job cuts.

"We don't want to cut public education, so we're going to have to go to superintendents of schools and say: 'Listen, you've got to find us some administrators, some bureaucrats, some public relations people that we can cut, because we're not going to furlough teachers," Miller said.

Miller also said there won't be tax increases -- a politically perilous move because lawmakers raised taxes by $1.4 billion in a 2007 special session, and 2010 is an election year. Consequently, Miller said lawmakers will be forced "to do less with less" as the state recovers from the recession.

"We're going to have to make those tough decisions because we've cut everything else," Miller said.

Miller also named tax credits for historical buildings and stem cell research as areas the state may not be able to afford next year.

Stem cell research money has often come up as a target for budget cuts amid fiscal strains in recent years, but the funds have largely been left intact. In July, the Board of Public Works voted to cut $3 million in stem cell research money, leaving $12.4 million.

Miller and Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat, both were asked about the chances of legislation to change Maryland law to allow wineries to ship directly to Maryland consumers.

While Busch noted a chance could come "this year or next year or in the future," he underscored that it has been "a contentious issue for years."

Miller said he believed it will pass "sometime in the future," but not necessarily this session.

Wineries with Permits

Wineries Able to Ship to MD

Here is a link to the Comptroller's website. Search for "DW-Direct Wine Shippers Permit" under permit type.

Search for wineries


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