Sun Editorial Further Frames State Budget Debate

Today’s Baltimore Sun editorial “What’s The Rush, Mr. Hogan?” ruminates the the budget plan proposed by Governor Hogan, and offers views on multiple sides of the forthcoming deliberations over fiscal issues in Annapolis.

From the editorial, the Sun muses on some of the long-term budget “fixes” being suggested:

Mr. Hogan’s budget represents a real change in the way the state does business compared to the O’Malley administration or even that of the state’s last Republican governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Maryland law establishes a variety of formulas that govern about four-fifths of the state budget, and left alone, they dictate healthy increases in spending whether the state has the tax receipts to pay for them or not. Previous governors and legislatures have put in place annual fixes to some or all of these mandates to keep the budget in balance from year to year. Mr. Hogan is proposing long-term changes that hold spending increases governed by many of these formulas to below the growth rate in state revenues.

The Sun further discusses the possibility that the (political) devil, seemingly as always, may lie in the details:

Are the precise choices Mr. Hogan made about how to limit spending growth the fairest ones? The extent to which the budget ax fell on Baltimore City schools, for example, would suggest not in all cases. Do we, in fact, want to roll back the pace of state land purchases through the anti-sprawl Program Open Space? Would cuts to Medicaid really save money, or would they merely shift costs elsewhere? What should be the state’s policy on tuition growth at public colleges and universities? Is it right to effectively rescind a raise for state workers, who endured years of stagnant wages and furloughs during the recession?

Read the full editorial online at the Baltimore Sun website.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties