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Hogan's budget 'gimmicks' reflect his priorities

Your report on Gov. Larry Hogan's budget shows how easily political rhetoric can become detached from economic reality and common sense ("Despite Hogan promises, critics see 'gimmicks' in his budget," Jan. 30).

The story quoted spokesmen from both parties denouncing each other for alleged "budget gimmicks." Yet both sides are talking about exactly the same thing: Shifting funds from one state fund (which the governor thinks doesn't need the money) to another state fund (which he thinks does need the money).

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Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed more than a dozen such fund transfers. Two of the biggest are moving the state's real estate transfer tax revenue from the Open Space fund to the General Fund (which goes primarily to education and health care); and moving some costs of environmental clean-up from the General Fund (which comes primarily from income and sales tax revenue) to the transportation trust fund (which comes primarily from the gas tax, vehicle fees and transit fares).

Such shifts reflect Governor Hogan's priorities — relatively less for parks and transportation and potentially more for tax cuts. Governors make such proposals every time they submit a budget. Former Republican Gov. Robert L. Erhlich Jr. did it, as did former Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley.

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That doesn't mean I or anybody else necessarily agrees with a particular governor's priorities. For example, I don't agree with Mr. Hogan's cuts in Open Space funding.

But his fund transfer proposals, like Mr. O'Malley's, aren't "gimmicks." They are choices about priorities, which is exactly what budget decisions are supposed to be.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat who represents College Park, is Senate chair of the Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds.


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