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Hogan, Cuomo press for financial aid for state governments

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, shown at a National Governors Association event last year, is joining New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in pushing for federal financial aid to help states with budget struggles caused by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, shown at a National Governors Association event last year, is joining New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in pushing for federal financial aid to help states with budget struggles caused by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)(Jose Luis Magana / AP)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are teaming up again to renew their push for federal financial aid to struggling state governments.

The two men have been among the most visible governors during the coronavirus pandemic and are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Governors Association. They’ve been pushing for $500 billion more in financial help to plug budget holes caused by a drop in tax revenue and increased spending on the pandemic response.

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“This is not a red state or blue state crisis,” wrote Hogan, a Republican, and Cuomo, a Democrat in a public statement. “This is a red white and blue pandemic. The coronavirus is apolitical. It does not attack Democrats or Republicans. It attacks Americans.”

States have received federal assistance in prior coronavirus aid packages passed by Congress, but that money was designated for specific uses. The governors’ current request is for unrestricted aid.

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Updated projections for Maryland’s financial picture will be released tomorrow.

In early April, state officials predicted that the state could miss out on collecting $2.8 billion in taxes from March through the end of June, if the governor’s stay-at-home order remains in place that long.

If the stay-at-home order is lifted by the end of May, the hit to the state budget could be $1.5 billion.

The state is losing out on income tax due to nearly one in five working Marylanders being laid off or furloughed and others seeing their hours cut. The state also is missing sales tax, gas tax and casino revenues as people are forced to stay home.

In response, Hogan instituted a freeze on hiring and discretionary spending and directed his budget secretary to look for ways to trim the state budget. The current budget runs through June 30, with the next budget year starting July 1.

The state’s Board of Public Works, comprised of the governor, comptroller and treasurer, has the authority to make significant mid-year budget cuts if needed.

Local governments who are currently developing their budgets for the year starting July 1 also are struggling to predict how much money they’ll have and how much they’ll need to curtail spending.

Baltimore County, for example, is expecting to come up $172 million short of what it had planned. Baltimore City, meanwhile, is predicting to have $103 million less to spend in the next budget.

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