House and Senate Leaders Reject Budget Compromise, Push Priorities

During a press conference this morning, House and Senate leaders indicated they would not consider a budget compromise offered by Governor Hogan. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

In rhetoric that has heightened since the weekend, they said they have done everything they plan to do to resolve the rift.

“We’re not done negotiating,” Senate President Mike Miller said. “But we’re not going to negotiate against ourselves.”

Top leaders from the Senate and House of Delegates told reporters they have or are on track to deliver most of Hogan’s legislative agenda by the end of the day: a repeal of the so-called “rain tax,” a tax break for military retirees, more flexibility for charter schools, and a way to replenish the public campaign financing fund.

But they said the would not acquiesce to Hogan’s idea to choose among sending money to schools, paying for some pregnant women to be on Medicaid, paying for heroin addition treatment and a long list of other health care-related initiatives.

The Governor has indicated that the House and Senate budget plan doesn’t go far enough towards closing the State’s structural deficit.

Spokesman Doug Mayer said the final version of the budget, completed late last week, worsened the state’s financial standing. Mayer said governor disagrees with a budget that his analysis shows has a $250 million deficit for next year and a cumulative deficit of $1.7 billion by 2020.

House and Senate leaders disagree with this analysis.

Key sticking points are over funding for education, a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for State employees, and increased Medicaid rates for health care providers.

Hogan offered Saturday to pay the state workers, give roughly $35 million more to public schools and leave a pool of cash for the Democrats to divide among health care priorities. But that pool is smaller than the legislature wanted because Hogan wants to spend $75 million more funding the state pension.

Democrats on Monday said they were rejecting that offer.

In total, the sides are bickering over about $202 million out of a more than $40 billion spending plan.

For the past week, Hogan had remained steadfast that he wanted all of his legislative agenda passed in order to release money the legislature had set aside for schools, the pay raise and health initiatives.

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