Governor Hogan yesterday announced the framework if his fiscal agenda for the 2016 legislative session and the FY 2017 budget, including the dimensions of tax relief he expects to seek as part of his Administration priorities. More details are expected next week, and then will be more fully revealed as part of his “State of the State” address later in January.
The most visible component of the proposed changes are relaxing statutorily mandated spending, and providing space for tax reductions. The Baltimore Sun described these connected components:
Hogan paired his proposed cuts, which would take effect over five years and total $400 million, with a call for what he described as “mandate relief.” He said his top priority during the 90-day legislative session that begins next week would be to persuade the Assembly to reverse laws dating back to the 1950s that constrain how the governor can spend about 80 percent of state revenue.
“It’s completely absurd, it’s unsustainable and has to end,” Hogan said, blaming spending mandates for causing financial troubles during recessions.
Those mandates require the state to spend increasing amounts of money each year on education, health care and public safety. Democrats contend that paring back those spending requirements is tantamount to calling for larger class sizes, spotty health care and diminished public safety.
The Washington Post covered the press event as well, and described House Speaker Michael Busch’s initial reactions:
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) was skeptical of allowing automatic reductions in spending formulas but said he couldn’t take a position without more details.
“You have to be pretty specific about where that mandate relief would come from and what kind of savings you would get from it,” Busch said. “There’s a reason why those mandates are in place.”