Lawmakers rejected a GOP-backed amendment Wednesday that would have canceled bonuses, with opponents saying that workers deserved them given the furloughs they have endured in recent years.
State employees would contribute more of their salary toward retirement — from 5 percent to 7 percent — but the House plan eliminates an element of O’Malley’s proposal that would set up a less generous option for employees who want to continue making the same contribution.
When it comes to health-care costs, the House significantly scaled back the governor’s plan, allowing retirees to pay less for prescription drugs than O’Malley recommended. A proposed annual cap on drugs of $4,550 would be lowered to $1,000, compared with the current cap of $700.
The House version of the spending plan closes the budget gap without raising broad-based taxes, but Republican legislators Wednesday pointed to a series of fee increases included in the plan.
Maryland residents would pay $100 instead of $50 for a title when they purchase a vehicle, and the price of a vanity plate would increase from $25 to $50. Marylanders would also pay more — $40 instead of $20 — to file land records when property changes hands.
In a lighter moment in what was at times a heated debate, Bohanan joked that some of the fee increases were optional: Residents, he said, would only encounter the vanity plate increase “if you think it’s very important to ride down the road with a ‘HOT MAMA’ plate.”
Other amendments debated Wednesday night underscored differences between the two parties. Republicans sought to use the debate to wade into the issue of whether illegal immigrants who graduate from Maryland high schools should qualify for in-state tuition breaks. Legislators rejected an amendment aimed at Montgomery College that would have eliminated some funding for community colleges that knowingly allow illegal immigrants to pay the lower in-county tuition rate. Montgomery College offers in-county rates to students who have graduated from county high schools, regardless of immigration status.
The House also rejected a provision that would have restricted spending of state Medicaid dollars on abortions.
Opponents of the measure said it would discriminate against poor women who cannot afford the procedure and receive health insurance through Medicaid.
Staff writer Aaron C. Davis contributed to this report.