General Assembly Leaders Expect Some Contention Over Budget, Transportation Priorities

General Assembly leaders addressed the business community during the annual Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Policy Conference this week giving a prelude of issues to be discussed during this upcoming session. While too early for specifics, the legislative leaders of both parties emphasized working together, but indicated that discussions over a possible budget surplus could get contentious.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, the Assembly’s leading Democrats, emphasized education as a priority as they appeared on a panel at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Policy Conference here.

They were joined by House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, who stressed goals of protecting business from excessive regulation and advancing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s program of economic change.

Another area of contention is transportation funding.

Busch put his finger on what is likely to be a bone of contention during the session despite the legislature’s limited clout in setting transportation priorities — Hogan’s decision to scuttle the $2.9 billion Red Line light rail project in Baltimore.

“There is no plan for Baltimore City for any type of transit,” Busch said.

There was some partisan skirmishing around the edges of Tuesday’s discussion. After Kipke touted Hogan’s plan to spend nearly $2 billion on transportation projects around the state, Busch noted that Hogan had proposed to roll back the chamber-supported gas tax increase that made much of that spending possible.