Budget Compromise Languishes As House, Senate Debate Revenues

House and Senate leaders ended a second round of budget talks Monday with terse exchanges and no resolution on a $1.2 billion revenue package and no agreement on when they will meet next.

Senate Budget and Taxation Chair Guy Guzzone (D-Howard) signaled a willingness to compromise on several issues to bolster the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. House Appropriations Chair Ben Barnes (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel) said more needs to be done to address billions in revenue shortfalls for transportation and education.

“The governor has said the House of Senate should sit down and compromise,” Barnes said, speaking to Guzzone during a Monday afternoon budget conference committee meeting. “But let’s be clear: compromise doesn’t mean doing nothing. And, Mr. Chairman, thank you because your proposal was not nothing, but it also doesn’t mean doing so little that we’re not actually solving any of the problems.”

In the broad sense, the House and Senate generally agree on a $63 billion budget that represents some changes from the one introduced by Gov. Wes Moore (D) in January.

Guzzone and the Senate continue to balk at broad-based taxes and gambling expansion that were inserted by the House into a companion budget reconciliation bill. There does appear to be a willingness on the part of the Senate to discuss some targeted fees.