Budget conferees on Monday put the finishing touches on a $46.6 billion dollar budget proposal, reconciling several differences between the House and Senate budget proposals. The conference committee’s report now goes to the General Assembly for final approval.
The proposed budget achieves the Spending Affordability Committee’s (SAC) dual goal of leaving a fund balance of at least $100 million and eliminating the structural shortfall in fiscal 2020. The conference committee’s actions leave a fund balance of $118.2 million and produce a $26 million structural surplus for fiscal 2020.
Budget negotiators settled on $255 million to begin implementing the recommendations of the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education and identified $355.3 million for education initiatives in FY 2021. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Senate plan allocates $225 million in FY 2020, far less than the $320 million the House approved in its budget plan.
Coupled with planned actions in the capital budget bill, the legislative plan dedicates $500 million to school construction, $62 million more than was allocated in the Governor’s original budget proposal.
Disparity Grant Funding
The budget fully funds the Governor’s formula-driven allocation of $146,172,853 for the Disparity Grant Program. As previously reported on Conduit Street, disparity grant funding is set to increase for Baltimore City, along with Caroline, Cecil, Prince George’s, Somerset, Washington, and Wicomico counties.
A Legislative “Veto” On Counties’ Transportation Priorities?
As previously reported on Conduit Street, in the Senate amendments to the broad Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, HB 1407, new language was added and approved by the Senate to change the requirements for identifying a local priority project. Under the proposed language, when a county submits a “local priority letter” to the Department of Transportation, identifying a project as a local priority, a majority of the county’s legislative delegations (both House and Senate) must support the project.
The conference committee struck the Senate proposal and instead added language to require that all members of a county’s legislative delegation receive notification when a county submits a “local priority letter” to the Department of Transportation.
State Aid to Local Governments
Overall, the budget plan increases state aid to local governments by $556.4 million (6.4%), most of which is in the form of state aid to education/libraries, which increases by $498.6 million (6.6%).
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.
Conference Committee Budget Documents
House Budget Documents
Senate Budget Documents