From the Senate Minority Office:
On the floor of the State Senate yesterday, members of the Maryland Senate Republican Caucus reached across the aisle and joined with Democrats to voice their support for the budget bills proposed by Governor Larry Hogan with the first unanimous budget vote in the Senate in nine years. Throughout the Senate chamber, Senators were lauding the administration, the Budget and Taxation Committee, and each other for the air of mutual respect that resulted in this historic occurrence.
“This is my thirteenth year in Annapolis,” said Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R – Harford and Baltimore Counties), “and every year it’s been like a broken record—everything is terrible, budgets are tight, what are we going to do? But this year was like no other. I want to commend the Chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee for working with my colleagues in the minority party, for letting them be at the table discussing the issues, and for coming up with solutions to try to work this out.
“I know the Governor wanted to fix the structural issue in one year. He’s got about 74% of it done through the budget. He’s got additional cuts coming from his agencies, which could take it all the way to 88%. It’s like tearing a band-aid off: we’ve ripped it and there’s just that little piece left, and we’ll get that done next year. So I am proud to stand here and vote green on this budget.”
Senator George Edwards (R – Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties) echoed the minority leader’s sentiments, “This is the thirty-third budget I’ve worked on, and I have to say that this is probably the smoothest process since I’ve been here. The cooperation has been outstanding. We’ve worked with the Democrats on some of their interests, and they’ve worked with us on some of ours. Even though you never agree with everything that’s in a budget, I still think it’s a very good one that puts us in a position to bring the structural deficit in line next year.
“Democracy is compromise as long as you don’t compromise your principles. In this process there was compromise. We’ve all worked together, and I truly appreciate the Chairman’s involvement. The Governor has worked closely with his staff and the members of the Budget and Taxation Committee, so it’s time for us to vote this budget out and move forward.”
Senator Gail Bates (R – Howard County) spoke about being able to balance the budget without raising fees or taxes: “I am really proud to see us taking our first steps to tackle the long-range structural deficit without the need for further taxes. I think the compromise we have today speaks volumes for our ability to come together.
“I like that for the first time in years we’re not using debt to close budgetary loopholes in the general fund. I was a little concerned that we didn’t adopt some language to help us get better control of our debt service payments, so I hope in the future we can do a better job with that. I trust our future budgets will continue the model we set this year of living within our means like our constituents. I’m really proud to cast a green vote on this budget this year.”