Money Matters: A Supplemental Budget Proposal and a Billion-Dollar Education Boost

The bean counters will be working overtime in Annapolis this week as lawmakers stare down a series of serious budget considerations – first and foremost the state’s 2020 budget.

The House Appropriations Committee is likely to vote on a spending plan on Friday, just one day after the Board of Revenue Estimates is expected to substantially write down anticipated state revenues by as much as $350 million.

Lawmakers were already shifting funds and had taken the unusual step of introducing a legislator-sponsored Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, when Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) released a supplemental budget Monday afternoon.

Hogan’s proposal increases the state’s unappropriated general fund balance by including new estimated cost savings within the Medicaid program.

The governor also proposes spending some of that savings on items including:

  • $250,000 for a public alert system in Ellicott City;
  • $243,000 for homeless shelter services in Charles County;
  • $1.5 million to cover Maryland’s dairy farmers’ costs to participate in the Federal Dairy Margin Coverage Program; and
  • $2.8 million to entities at the University of Maryland for programs including the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, and the Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. Center for Education, Justice and Ethics, whose namesake was appointed by the governor to serve on his redistricting commission and other panels.

The proposed supplemental budget also includes a $3 million increase in state education funding to reflect new enrollment and wealth figures.

The budget proposal was not formally introduced in the chambers Monday night. Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said she had not taken an in-depth look at the budget proposal as of Monday evening.

The timing of the supplemental budget makes things a little complicated, “but we’ll work with the governor to figure it out,” McIntosh said.

On Tuesday morning, Democratic leaders are holding a news conference to discuss their “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” bill, legislation inspired by the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Education’s recommendations. The bill, which was introduced in the chambers Monday night but not publicly available, is expected to outline $1 billion in education spending over the next two years.

The so-called Kirwan Commission has called for sweeping changes to the state’s public education system, including grants to fund additional staff in schools with high concentrations of poverty, additional special education programming, expanded pre-kindergarten and increases in teacher salaries.

A hearing on the Senate version of the Kirwan bill is scheduled for Wednesday.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.

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