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As Budget Cuts Loom, Marylanders Weigh In On Possible Special Session

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—There's no word yet on whether the General Assembly will come back in a special session to resolve budget issues, but there are plenty of opinions both ways.

Political reporter Pat Warren has a look at the public sentiment.

That session would mean an income tax hike to avoid budget cuts. For some it's a matter of public benefit. For others, it's a question of how heavily Marylanders should be taxed.

For those for and against a special session, it's all about the spending: how much taxpayers should spend for K-12 education, how much taxpayers should spend for higher education, and how much should be spent to keep state agencies running and programs funded.

Reverend Peter Nord, of the Presbytery of Baltimore, tells WJZ it's important to call lawmakers back to Annapolis.

"So many people who are poor, who are powerless, are subject to the whims of these three elected leaders," Nord said.

Those leaders--the governor, Senate President and House Speaker-- are also taking heat from those who don't want a special session.

"It's becoming almost unaffordable to live in the state of Maryland," one tax protester said.

The Maryland Chapter of Americans for Prosperity has a petition against a special session posted on its Maryland website.

On Monday, a coalition in favor of a special session held a news conference urging the governor to bring lawmakers back.

"Get back together, get it resolved, and do it quickly," said John Deckenback of the United Church of Christ.

That resolution is expected to include an income tax increase to avoid $512 million in cuts.

Americans For Prosperity says thousands of Marylanders are signing their online petition against it.

"And just people are going in and signing that petition just telling Governor O'Malley 'We can't afford another billion dollars in spending. We can't afford new taxes, and a special session is not the answer to get Maryland's economy moving,'" said Nick Loffer, Americans for Prosperity.

The governor has said he will not order a special session until he's sure there is a consensus between the House, the Senate and himself.

The budget takes effect July 1.

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