Advertisement

First glance: How the state budget affects Carroll

Gov. Larry Hogan's first proposed budget is putting Carroll County on the fiscal negative side as the county is tied with the biggest percentage of cuts.

The county's education and transportation and other state money are proposed to be decreased by about $5.7 million.

Advertisement

Hogan's budget has shown decreases in expected revenues and also has pledged to examine — and possibly change — mandated formulas that take up core portions of the budget. That could mean smaller funding increases in the future as he looks to cut taxes and spending.

The Republican governor's budget is merely a proposal at this time as it will go through the General Assembly where it likely will see some changes from the Democratic majority.

Less education money

Hogan's budget proposes Carroll County would lose about $4.3 million in primary and secondary education funding, with some of that funding being lost in special education.

The county also lost some of the Geographic Cost of Education Index money, which means potentially about $1.2 million in lost education funding when using the fiscal 2015 numbers. This money is given to school systems that have higher costs of living.

This hurts schools in a variety of ways as they look for pay raises, books and other school costs.

Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5, said the cuts from Hogan could have been deeper and that the governor took a balanced approach. This was a budget that uses $16.4 billion in revenue, and he spends a little less than that and fully funds education, Shoemaker said.

"He did the best that he could with what he had to work with," Shoemaker said. "I fully support his budget."

The cuts could have even been worse as there was concerns that the entire GCEI money was thought to be cut away, said Del. Justin Ready, R-District 5.

"They actually funded that halfway," Ready said. "They are basically trying to balance the budget today and keep it balanced down the road."

Delegation Chairwoman Susan Krebs, R-District 5, said the county's loss of funds were due to a loss of enrollment. The state pays a certain amount of money per student, and losing students means losing funding, she said.

Krebs was hoping Hogan's budget would provide some relief for the county's dwindling student population.

"I was very disappointed they didn't put that in the budget," Krebs said. "They should have put it in the budget."

Bye, bye to transportation grants for local governments

Advertisement

Hogan's budget totally deleted a line that allowed for grants to fix potholes and municipal roadways, totaling in a loss of about $16 million statewide with $925,000 in Carroll County.

Hogan also didn't increase Highway User Revenues, meaning counties are still only receiving 1.5 percent of revenues generated from gas taxes and title fees.

County and city governments have been asking for this money as it helps them repair their roads without cutting into their budgets.

This money will take some time to replenish as Hogan tackles spending in the budget. The shares that counties received was cut in 2010 to help the state recover from the recession.

State employees lose cost of living pay raise

State employees are losing the 2-percent cost of living adjustment they received in January

Hogan's budget proposes removing that increase as of July 1 and wouldn't dish out a cost of living or other pay raise next year, according to The Baltimore Sun.

On the other hand, employees were not to be furloughed or laid off this budget cycle, Hogan said at his Thursday budget conference.

The governor did say he wants to consolidate agencies in the future, which may bring about more employee changes.

No tax cuts ... yet

Hogan's budget doesn't come with any tax cuts — yet — but he has promised to make them a priority.

The Stormwater Remediation Fee, commonly referred to as the "rain tax," is one Carroll and other counties want overturned. Repealing the fee would allow counties to choose how they pay for federally mandated stormwater runoff projects.

Shoemaker thinks Hogan's tax cuts are on the way.

"I'd like to see him [cut taxes] this year and I do think there will be tax cuts of some sort coming from Annapolis this year," Shoemaker said.

Recap

Overall, the budget was not as harsh as legislators anticipated. Some, for instance, thought the Geographic Cost of Education Index money would be removed altogether. It still could be.

Now, Hogan's budget is being parsed as legislators look into how the details will effect their areas.

The budget will soon begin moving through the predominantly Democratic General Assembly, whose approval would be needed if Hogan wants to change any legal funding formulas. But under state law, the legislature cannot add to Hogan's budget — it can only cut further and try to negotiate other changes.

Even though Carroll County lost money, Krebs said she was pleased Hogan kept his word to spend within the state's means.

After the spending of the O'Malley administration, getting back in line takes some work, she said.

"Everybody is going to have to take some hits," Krebs said. "You can't make the budget structural sound like he promised to do and not feel the pain."

Reach reporter Chase Cook at ccook@tribune.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement