MACo To Spending Board: Don’t Cut Disparity Aid

In response to the State Department of Budget and Management’s proposed $6,028,885 cut to disparity grants for some counties, MACo sent the members of the Board of Public Works a letter respectfully requesting them to vote against the proposal at their meeting tomorrow morning.

The cuts include level funding disparity grants at the fiscal 2017 level, resulting in cuts to Prince George’s ($4,245,462), Baltimore City ($946,445), Wicomico ($587,801), Cecil ($196,240), and Washington ($52,938). The above-mentioned counties were to receive an increase in their disparity grant aid in fiscal 2018 per the statutory formula, but the General Assembly required those counties to provide those funds to their school systems above the required maintenance of effort (MOE) funding in fiscal 2018.

From MACo’s letter:

While counties are willing to shoulder their fair share of cuts necessary for ensuring the structural soundness of the State’s budget, this particular cut, when considered along with restrictions placed upon these funds by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2017 legislative session, amounts to an unfair consequence for county governments who dutifully complied with the state direction for these funds.

MACo does not regularly intervene in midyear funding issues before the Board of Public Works. In fact, in 2016, following a deep decline in State revenue forecasts, MACo did not directly object to the midyear cuts proposed and accepted – including a roughly analogous flat-funding of the disparity grant program. It is the specific circumstance of this proposed cut that moves our Association to raise this concern.

The State obliged counties receiving a disparity grant increase to direct these funds to education. The counties did so. To now rescind that very funding unfairly penalizes other county-funded priorities. Given the lack of an immediate fiscal crisis, MACo respectfully urges that you vote against this reduction to county disparity grants.

Read the full letter here.

Prior Conduit Street coverage on recent disparity grant actions:

Despite Proposed Cuts, State Earnings Higher Than Estimated
Administration To Propose $67 Million In State Budget Cuts
DLS 90 Day Report: Local Aid
Final FY18 Budget Actions – No Surprises
Operating Budget Finalized: $8.8m in New Highway User, SDAT Cost Shift Dead
Senate Committee Votes On Budget: Disparity Grants, Transportation Aid Affected
County Disparity Grants Among Proposed Midyear Budget Cuts