State Unanimously Approves Budget Cuts

All three members of Maryland’s Board of Public Works voted yesterday to approve Governor Hogan’s proposed cut of $82 million from the State’s budget for the current fiscal year.

As previously reported in Conduit Street, the cuts include $3.9 million in disparity grants to those local jurisdictions that experienced an increase in fiscal 2017:  mostly Prince George’s County (roughly $3.5 million), and the remainder split among Wicomico ($280,000), Washington ($91,000), and Cecil ($8,000). They also include a $1 million cut to the Community Legacy Program, which provides local governments with grants and loans for commercial revitalization activities. Awardees for the current fiscal year are anticipated to be announced within a few weeks.

The Board made the largest cut of $18.3 million to the University System of Maryland. According to  The Washington Post, a university system official said the system will eliminate 101 positions, 41 of which are currently filled. The university system’s chancellor, Robert L. Caret, said the positions would be eliminated through attrition.

The Washington Post reports on the back and forth between the members about the politics of the cuts:

Hogan patted himself on the back for refusing to spend $80 million the state legislature set aside for certain programs, arguing that the fiscal outlook would be worse if he had agreed to use that money. He said the legislature’s own analyst has even suggested that the General Assembly “get real” and take a hard look at spending.

“The state has been spending more than it takes in,” Hogan said, adding that his administration “from day one” has been trying to rein in spending to address the “chronic problem.”

Kopp countered that the trims approved Wednesday were needed because revenue is coming in short of state estimates.

“I wouldn’t want people to think that the problem is due to excessive spending,” Kopp said. “I hope that we deal with the problem and not turn this into a ‘Who struck John?’ ”

Read Conduit Street’s coverage on the recent revenue write-down and spending affordability analysis:

Budget Picture In Brief: Slow Growth Likely To Stay

DLS: Time To “Get Real” About State Budget

State Revenue Write-Down Softens Fiscal Footing