Maryland General Assembly gives final OK to state budget

Senators and delegates gave the final OK to the Maryland budget Tuesday.

Maryland lawmakers gave final approval to the state budget on Tuesday, finishing their most important task nearly two weeks before the end of the General Assembly session.

The $42.3 billion budget — which includes no new taxes — dictates how state money will be spent for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, and largely follows the outlines of the budget that Gov. Larry Hogan proposed in January.

Hogan has said he's pleased that his budget remained largely intact and moved through the legislature quickly. He has, however, raised concerns about lawmakers cordoning off money that he can only spend in certain areas. Hogan can choose to leave that money — about $80 million — unspent.

After the Senate and House of Delegates passed slightly different versions of the budget, a House-Senate conference committee worked out the differences.

The budget leaves a $400 million surplus, as well as puts $1 billion into a rainy day fund. It also includes enough money to limit public college and university tuition increases to no more than 2 percent, sends an extra $12.7 million to Baltimore public schools and spends $18 million to demolish vacant homes in the city.

Doctors who treat Medicaid patients would get more money, state troopers would receive automatic raises and other state employees will receive pay increases for good performance.

The conference committee version of the budget was adopted in the House on a 130-7 vote and in the Senate on a 45-0 vote. Both chambers passed the budget with little debate.

Lawmakers have not yet finished work on the state capital budget, which includes state-funded construction projects. The capital budget has been approved by the Senate and is on track to get a vote in the House this week.

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