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Maryland begins 2012 legislative with big money issues on the table

Maryland’s lawmakers are back in Annapolis on Wednesday for the 430th legislative session.

The General Assembly faces a host of major fiscal issues, including a $1.1 billion budget deficit and a push by powerful lawmakers and interest groups to raise more money to spend on transportation.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to unveil his transportation plans this week and has already said he will propose a $372 million in school construction funding, the second-highest level ever in the state.

House Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller have said a 15-cent gasoline tax proposal is too much, but said they will look at other options to raise transportation taxes and fees.

Lawmakers will also have several other major issues on their plates, including offshore wind power, same-sex marriage and a regulatory overhaul initiated by O’Malley in October.