During a revenue briefing in Annapolis yesterday, House and Senate budget committee members questioned the State’s Budget Secretary about across the board cuts made to state agencies and what actions the Governor may take now that the FY 2015 close out fund balance is greater than expected and FY 2016 revenues are up. Based on the line of questioning and the response, it was clear that the Administration and General Assembly have competing priorities.
As reported by the Capital News Service,
Democratic lawmakers at a Maryland budget panel on Thursday urged representatives of Gov. Larry Hogan to use millions in unexpected state revenue to bolster supplemental schools funding.
Teachers’ unions and public education advocates sent a letter to Hogan Thursday morning asking for the release of $68 million for this year’s school funding.
During the 2015 session, the General Assembly fenced off monies to fully fund a supplemental education grant known as the Geographic Cost of Education Index, which provides additional funding to 13 school districts where the cost of education is greater due to larger enrollment. The funding of this grant does not seem likely.
“The state faces $18.7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, following $625 million in cuts to pension contributions in the last few years,” said Erin Montgomery, the governor’s spokeswoman. “Governor Hogan remains committed to using the funds fenced off by the General Assembly to revive the pension system, while also providing a record $6.1 billion in education funding statewide.”
Legislators also questioned the budget secretary about the number of jobs abolished through the across the board cuts. The majority of these positions were vacant, but they were very concerned about the effect on case loads in certain agencies, particularly in the Department of Human Resources.
Documents from the briefing can be found below.
- Fiscal Update from the Department Legislative Services
- Department of Budget and Management’s Letter Describing the 2% Across the Board Cut
Additional coverage of the hearing can be found in the Washington Post