Senate Committee Approves $10 Million for Potholes, Closes Budget Gap

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, in its full committee budget decisions on Friday, March 7, approved a one-time $10 million grant to counties for pothole repairs. In introducing the budget amendment, Senator Madaleno said its been a very severe winter and its wreaking havoc on our roadways. This funding will assist counties with much needed roadway repairs. A previous blog on Conduit Street, Maryland’s “Year of the Pothole,” highlights the challenges local governments are facing in repairing their roadways.

To bring the budget into balance, the committee also approved taking a larger share of the pension reinvestment dollars and transferring them to the State’s General Fund. As reported by WBAL Radio:

Under pension reform three years ago, Maryland was to pay $300 million above its required pension payment each year to move gradually to fully funding the pension system. Gov. Martin O’Malley proposed capping the payment at $200 million this year to help fill a budget gap.

Now, with a $238 million downward revision in state revenues creating a bigger hole, senators have decided to make only a $100 million payment for fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015. That frees up the remaining $200-million to ease budget pressures.

In making this decision, the committee also approved a plan to gradually increase the payment of reinvestment funds back to the full $300 million in fiscal 2019.

The Senate budget panel decided to slowly increase the payments in future years. For example, the panel decided to bring the additional payment up to $150 million in fiscal year 2016, $200 million in fiscal year 2017 and $250 million in fiscal year 2018. In fiscal year 2019, the full $300 million payment would be made.

The Maryland State Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees expressed support for this approach during the meeting.

More information on the State’s revenue write down and its effect on the State’s budget can be found in a previous post on Conduit Street.