Latest Supplemental Budget Further Fuels Budget Standoff

Governor Hogan released a third supplemental budget yesterday to restore funding to the state employee pension system, a move that has further fueled the standoff between the Governor and House and Senate leaders over the FY 2016 budget. As reported by the Washington Post,

Hogan submitted a budget plan in January that added $150 million over the $1.6 billion that the law requires it to pay to the pension fund this year. But the General Assembly cut that additional amount in half in order to ensure full funding for school districts where the cost of educating children is higher and to cover a ­2­ percent cost-of-living adjustment promised to state workers.

“We’ve said hundreds of times over the past several months that our biggest concern was the pension — robbing the pension was not a good idea,” Hogan said in an interview. He made the request in a supplemental proposal, the third amendment to his original budget plan.

Its unclear what next steps may be.

Members of the General Assembly were caught off guard by Hogan’s proposal, much as they were last week when he released a second supplemental budget that included several tax-relief initiatives that have been either killed or modified by lawmakers. Those include a bill that exempts police, firefighters and other first responders from paying income taxes on a chunk of their pensions.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said he is perplexed that the governor has yet to discuss with lawmakers the specifics of the budget that the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved.

Sen. Richard S. Madaleno ­(D-Montgomery) said many senators were as surprised by Hogan’s requests as House leaders.

“He has the ability to declare victory,” Madaleno said. “We have the ability to all stand together tomorrow and declare victory on a budget deal, and the amazing thing is that at this last minute he seems like he wants to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.”

For more information on the proposed FY 2016 budget and the House and Senate budget plans, see our previous posts on Conduit Street.