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$3.5B capital budget includes money for Ripken Stadium, Rocky Gap resort

ANNAPOLIS — The House of Delegates on Saturday approved a $3.5 billion capital budget that includes money for major Baltimore revitalization projects, infrastructure improvements for a proposed Western Maryland casino and renovations of Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium in Harford County.

Ripken Stadium

Ripken Stadium

The House voted 100-31 to accept a final revision of the capital spending plan, agreed to in a conference committee of senators and delegates. The final revision must still be OK’d by the full Senate, which in a unanimous bipartisan vote approved its version of capital budget bill last month

Republican lawmakers in the House did not agree so readily, some citing concerns that the state is accumulating an unmanageable amount of debt. The capital budget would authorize $1.1 billion in new debt to pay for construction projects across the state.

“There’s a lot of good in this bill, but we can’t keep racking up debt that our children would have to pay for,” said Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, R-Calvert and St. Mary’s.

Most Republicans joined O’Donnell in voting against the bill.

The construction plan includes $2 million for wastewater treatment improvements at Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County, work necessitated by a casino expected to open this summer at Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort.

It also includes $5 million to pay for demolition of buildings under the watch of East Baltimore Development Inc. and $480,000 to renovate the Sports Legends Museum near Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Senate had proposed eliminating the museum’s appropriation from the capital budget and shifting the cost to the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The conference committee also earmarked $2 million to pay for renovations at Towson University’s softball stadium.

The budget plan includes $50.5 million for a new business school complex at Morgan State University, $21.5 million to complete the final leg of the Intercounty Connector and $450,000 for improvements at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, where the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league affiliate, the Aberdeen Ironbirds plays its home games.

The General Assembly’s regular 90-day session concludes Monday at midnight.