A joint committee of state Senate and House of Delegates members resolved their key differences today over the Maryland government's budget for the coming year, agreeing to about $28 million in cuts from the $8.2 billion spending plan proposed by Gov. Harry Hughes.
During a three-hour meeting here this morning, the six-member conference committee compromised on issues as diverse as state funding for a task force on AIDS and the payment of legal costs in the savings and loan crisis.
"In the past six or seven years, this is the most productive and easiest budget yet," said Sen. Laurence Levitan (D-Montgomery), who headed the Senate's negotiating team.
His House counterpart, Del. R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. (D-Kent), agreed with Levitan after helping to craft a compromise to place a disputed $8 million -- which some legislators wanted to use for shock trauma services in Maryland -- back in the general fund.
At Levitan's urging, Mitchell and his House colleagues relented on a $250,000 appropriation to help the state government pay its legal costs in the savings and loan crisis. Hughes had requested $750,000, but several conference committee members said that figure was excessive in light of other funding increases in the attorney general's office.
Del. R. Charles Avara (D-Baltimore) consented to the expenditure, saying, "I want somebody hanged" for causing the crisis, which left many depositors with no access to their money for months.
In other action, the committee cut in half the $489,000 requested by Hughes for a task force on acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The panel also agreed to budget $100,000 to launch a program for housing-livability standards.
The 1986-87 budget now goes back to the full Senate and House, which are required by law to approve the spending plan before Tuesday.