With the state budget process nearing its end in the waning days of the 2015 General Assembly session, stakeholder attention remains on the back-and-forth between legislative leaders and the Governor regarding their priorities and pledges in the eventual shaping of the year’s spending plan.
Under the Maryland constitution, today (the 83rd day of session) is the deadline for passage of the operating budget. While that deadline has frequently been missed without material effect in recent years, it does mark an official proclamation of a budget-only “extended session” in the even no budget is adopted by April 13, the final scheduled day of the 90-day session.
Legislators carved out more than $200 million that they want Hogan to direct to specific priorities, including K-12 education and restoring a 2 percent pay raise for the state workforce.
But Hogan is not required to spend the cash. And last week he released a budget document suggesting he had no plans to do so unless the Assembly moves forward on his proposals for several tax cuts and charter school reform.
“Governor Hogan’s top priority for the last week of session is the same that it has been since day one: provide tax relief to Maryland citizens and advance education initiatives, including a bill that strengthens our public charter school law,” Hogan’s spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said.
The standoff on key priorities brings a different tone to the final week of lawmaking, as Annapolis works through its first legislative session with divided government in eight years. While former governor Martin O’Malley had his share of budget battles with the Democrats who control the legislature, this year’s divide reflects a philosophical difference.