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Unified Senate Passes Budget Plan

The Maryland Senate voted 47-0 in favor of a $46.6 billion state budget on Thursday, and budget negotiators from both chambers are expected to start meeting on a compromise spending plan Friday afternoon.

Before the chamber’s final vote, Sen. George Edwards (R-Western Maryland) thanked Budget and Taxation Chair Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery) on behalf of the Republican members of the committee, for her first year of work as chairwoman.

“She did a tremendous job,” Edwards said. “She allowed us to have input, especially in areas where we have expertise to draw upon. I think that’s important to the process.”

Edwards said that while he could pick apart a piece or two from every budget, he was pleased with the overall product this year.

“This is a great budget and hopefully we can prevail when we get into conference committee with the House. And I’m sure with Sen. King’s guidance, we’ll do that,” he said.

The budget plan was also lauded by another Republican in the chamber, albeit cautiously.

Sen. Andrew Serafini (R-Washington) said he loved the Senate’s spending plan and the constrained way it deals with spending for Kirwan Commission recommendations and other areas. But he also warned the chamber that more work is ahead in the future: the state’s Rainy Day Fund could use a little extra cushion, a structural deficit still looms and programs that were cut years ago still haven’t been paid back, he said.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) had considered introducing an amendment on Thursday to increase discrimination protections for children in private schools that receive state funding. She chose not to introduce the amendment, but told her colleagues she hopes protections are added regarding gender identity and for students with disabilities.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said officials received notice yesterday that the state has maintained its Triple-A bond rating, the longest continuous Triple-A bond rating for a state in the country.

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Unified Senate Passes Budget Plan