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Maryland has no new money to spend, revenue board says

Maryland has no new money to spend, but no need for cuts beyond Gov. Larry Hogan's January budget proposal, according to revenue estimates released Wednesday.

The state Board of Revenue Estimates' latest projection of how much money Maryland will take in this year and next was unchanged from its December report.

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"We can rightly consider what amounts to no news as good news," said Comptroller Peter Franchot, who chairs the three-member board.

The December budget estimate by the same board brought dismal news just as the state was making the transition between the administrations of former Gov. Martin O'Malley and Hogan. Those numbers showed that officials needed to cut $420 million in spending from the budget that ends June 30, as well as $750 million from the annual budget that starts the next day.

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The new estimate reaffirms that Maryland is expected to bring in $15.7 billion this year in general fund revenue, which excludes money that goes into specialized funds such as transportation, and $16.2 billion next year. That represents growth of 3.5 percent.

Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley, who sits on the board, said the flat estimate will make it "incredibly difficult" for lawmakers to find money to restore a critical education funding formula that benefits jurisdictions such as Baltimore where the cost of educating children is higher.

"We still need to operate very conservatively and get a grip on spending," Brinkley said.

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