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Hogan proposes additional spending, but none so far for Baltimore schools

Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed additional spending for police, colleges and economic development but so far is putting no additional money in his budget to help the Baltimore school system with its $130 million budget gap.

Hogan's new spending proposal, including its full price tag, will be detailed Friday when he releases the first supplemental budget of the 90-day General Assembly session. It may not be the last.

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"There are funds available in the budget for other priorities," Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said Thursday.

Nevertheless, the head of the House of Delegates budget committee expressed surprise and disappointment that the new spending plan didn't address the city's plight or the budget woes in nine counties where student enrollment — and therefore state funding — also has declined in the past year.

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"We're talking about the quality of education we can be and should be committed to in 10 districts," said Del. Maggie McIntosh, the Baltimore Democrat who heads the Appropriations Committee.

Supplemental budgets, which address spending needs that might not have been apparent at the time of the state budget's release in January, are also a tool used by governors in their annual tug-of-war with lawmakers over budget priorities. By either including or withholding funds, a chief executive can bargain for funding priorities that the legislature may not share.

The House and Senate have passed separate versions of a $43.5 billion state budget and will convene a conference committee to resolve their differences. Typically, lawmakers work the governor's supplemental budgets into the overall spending plan during conference committee meetings.

McIntosh said she'd like to see the administration address the school funding issue in the next few days.

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"I am very hopeful that before the conference committees finish their work, [the governor's office] will bring down a second supplemental," she said.

The first supplemental budget includes $2 million for the Baltimore Police Department to help finance the cost of complying with its consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department over policing practices. McIntosh said that money was expected.

The proposal also includes a previously announced plan to spend an extra $10 million to address the state's growing problem of overdoses from heroin and other opioid drugs. The governor's office called it the first installment of the $50 million, five-year commitment Hogan announced when he declared the overdose epidemic a state of emergency this month.

Other spending proposals would provide extra money for higher education and economic development initiatives.

McIntosh had no comment on other items of the budget supplement. Her focus was on the money that wasn't there.

City school officials have warned that 1,000 employees, including teachers, could lose their jobs if the gap is not closed.

McIntosh said she made concessions to the administration on several issues and thought the funds would be coming.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh could not be reached for comment.

Mayer said the administration is continuing to discuss the school funding issue with Pugh and legislative leaders.

"They're progressing, and we're looking forward to them continuing in the days ahead," Mayer said.

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