The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released its annual summary of the legislative session, The 90 Day Report – A Review of the 2017 Legislative Session. The report is divided into 12 parts, each dealing with a major policy area. It also includes information relating to the final operating and capital budgets, including aid to local governments – and a breakdown of aid to each county.
This blog post provides links from the operating budget section which impact local governments.
DLS reports that State Aid to Local Governments totals $7.5 billion in fiscal 2018. However, $5.7 billion of this aid goes to public schools, $799.4 million to retirement payments, and $273.1 million to community colleges. Of this total, $694.2 million goes to county and municipal governments.
- State Aid to Local Governments, Fiscal 2017 and 2018 (Exhibit A-3.1)
- Reductions to State Aid Programs by County, Fiscal 2018 (Exhibit A-3.2)
- State Aid to Local Governments, Fiscal 2018 Legislative Appropriation (Exhibit A-3.4)
- Total State Aid to Local Governments (Exhibit A-3.5)
In order to balance the operating budget with revenues coming in under projections, the approved fiscal 2018 budget flat-funded many programs, including those serving counties. From page A-19 of the Report on the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, or BRFA of 2017:
The BRFA of 2017 includes several provisions that implement cost control and mandate relief; primarily in fiscal 2018. Specifically, the legislation …. reduces the fiscal 2018 mandated funding level for local jurisdictions under the Core Public Health Services and the State Aid for Police Protection programs to the fiscal 2017 level. ….
Related to the disparity grant, the BRFA of 2017 reduces the minimum grant amount from 67.5% to 63.75% of the disparity grant calculation provided, in fiscal 2018 only, for counties with a tax rate of at least 3.2%.
Related to MDOT, the BRFA of 2017 prohibits, for years beyond the budget request year, the inclusion of transportation grants to local governments in the Consolidated Transportation Program and the withholding or reserving of funds in the Transportation Trust Fund forecast for grants to local governments for roads and highways.
The BRFA of 2017 includes a provision that allocates a portion of the admissions and amusement tax revenue accruing to the Special Fund for the Preservation of Cultural Arts to a grant for the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County beginning in fiscal 2019. Related to Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS), the legislation requires $4.6 million in excess Baltimore City contributions to the Baltimore City Public School Construction Financing Fund to be credited to BCPS to provide a portion of its required contribution in fiscal 2018 instead of the Comptroller intercepting State education aid and expresses the intent that this provision would only apply in fiscal 2018. The legislation requires a quarterly report on the Baltimore City Public School System structural deficit in fiscal 2018, 2019, and 2020. Finally, the legislation authorizes, for fiscal 2018 only, Baltimore City to use its HUR to pay for students to ride MTA buses and prohibits MTA from charging Baltimore City more than a specified amount for this service.
The fiscal 2018 allowance, as introduced, contained approximately $13.5 million in funding for programs specifically tied to the heroin and opioid crisis. The majority of this funding is carryover from prior years and is based on the recommendations of the Governor’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force. New funding appropriated this session, included (1) a $2.0 million deficiency appropriation, which is also included in fiscal 2018, to fund residential treatment services for court-ordered individuals ($1.5 million) and the Opioid Operational Command Center ($0.5 million); and (2) $1.9 million in new special and federal funding for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The General Assembly added language to the budget bill restricting an additional $750,000 for a pilot study regarding management of opioid-related pain medication.
Supplemental Budget No. 2 included another $10.0 million in general funds for additional programming to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, in response to the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency on March 1, 2017. Language included in the supplemental item provided specific purposes for which the funding may be used, authorized the Governor’s Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council to distribute the funding, and required the council to report to the General Assembly on a quarterly basis on how the funds have been used. The General Assembly added additional language that restricted the funding decisions based on the provisions of either House Bill 1329/Senate Bill 967 (both passed) and required DHMH to distribute the funds, contingent upon the enactment of those bills.