xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Maryland Gov. Hogan promises tax cuts, more school funding, but offers few details on state budget proposal

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan discusses the Economic Recovery Budget he plans to submit to the General Assembly.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan promised Tuesday to propose a budget with tax cuts and record funding for public schools, but declined to provide details before submitting his plan to lawmakers on how much he wants to spend and how the budget would accomplish those goals.

The Republican governor’s proposal is due Wednesday to state legislators.

Advertisement

Hogan declined to say in advance how big the budget proposal will be or how much his plan would grow or shrink state spending compared to the current year’s budget.

“You’re going to find out tomorrow when we submit the budget,” Hogan said during a State House news conference in Annapolis.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Asked why his announcement did not include such information, Hogan laughed and said: “Because it wasn’t part of my presentation. We gave you a lot of stuff. Tomorrow, you’ll get to see.”

However, Hogan’s budget secretary, David Brinkley, stood beside the governor holding a book with a black cover titled “Maryland Budget Highlights Fiscal Year 2022.” According to writing on sticky notes poking out of the book, the total budget would be about $49 billion (“TB: $49.386b” one line said), with the general fund comprising about $20 billion (”GF: $20.036b,” according to the other figure noted).

Nicholas Pepersack, a spokesman for the Department of Budget and Management, confirmed Tuesday evening that those figures were accurate.

The budget for the fiscal year that runs through June 30 is about $48 billion.

Advertisement

The state budget is required by law to be balanced each year. Hogan’s proposed budget will cover state government spending for a 12-month period starting July 1.

Hogan’s budget proposal counts on a series of tax cuts that state lawmakers would need to approve separately, including tax breaks for retirees, such as retired first responders and those receiving military pensions. Hogan did not say how much money those cuts might save people.

The proposal also includes the effects of Hogan’s RELIEF Act, a bill that would exempt people on unemployment from paying income tax, that would offer tax breaks for businesses and would make direct stimulus payments to lower-income Marylanders. Hogan has said the bill is his priority this year; he has not introduced it yet to the General Assembly.

Hogan said the budget would include extra funding for public school systems that saw enrollment declines due to the pandemic. Those school systems otherwise would see a drop in funding under state formulas. He also pledged record funding for public schools, including construction projects and expanded tutoring and prekindergarten. And he said he would put $10 million into a scholarship program for private schools.

Hogan said he gave an overview of his budget proposal to the Democratic presiding officers and the Republican minority leaders in the General Assembly. He’s scheduled to do a video briefing Wednesday morning for leaders of the budget committees.

The pledge of more money for schools experiencing enrollment drops is promising, said Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

“That is good if he has tried to hold schools harmless,” McIntosh said. “I’ll wait and see the details, but I’m pleased by that.”

McIntosh said lawmakers will work with the governor on his RELIEF Act, saying that some version of aid to struggling Marylanders is important. But now is not the time, she said, to shrink the state’s tax base by cutting taxes for retirees, who have not been hit hard financially in the pandemic.

Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said in a statement: “We look forward to reviewing the details, but the governor’s high-level overview sounds promising. We will continue our unified, bipartisan focus on getting targeted resources to the most vulnerable Marylanders for this once-in-100-year pandemic.”

The governor’s budget proposal will available online at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Hogan said that despite the economic depression brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland has fared well, budget-wise, due to early cost-cutting measures and an influx of federal coronavirus aid. Early projections of catastrophic budget holes have been replaced by newer forecasts that show less of a hit to the state budget.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement