Maryland’s state government ended the last budget year with $2.5 billion in cash left over, officials announced Wednesday.
The extra money on hand is due largely to the deluge of federal pandemic aid that has flowed into Maryland and other states in multiple waves. That aid helped keep people working and businesses open, leading to steady taxes being paid to the state, according to Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is the state’s chief tax collector.
The state’s budget runs on a July-through-June fiscal year, and this extra $2.5 billion is for the budget year that ended June 30.
The $2.5 billion surplus is even larger than the one from the year before, which was $585 million.
Franchot, a Democrat who is running for governor in 2022, said that despite the positive economic news for the state government and many Marylanders, others in the state continue to deal with negative economic fallout from the pandemic. Enhanced unemployment benefits have ended, protections against evictions have expired and parents still struggle to find affordable child care, he noted.
Franchot suggested putting most of the surplus in the state’s rainy day fund and then creating “a proper structure” to offer further help to Marylanders in need.
“The state’s surplus is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in programs that lift all Marylanders and help stabilize housing and other critical expenses for our lower- and middle-income families,” Franchot said in a statement.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, issued a statement taking credit for the surplus. He said it is “further proof” that he succeeded in his goal to “turn around our state’s floundering economy.”
“As we move forward, we will continue to practice fiscal discipline while prioritizing relief that advances our recovery,” Hogan said in the statement.
State financial officials plan to meet Thursday to discuss the financial forecast for the coming months and years.