A Baltimore Sun article (2019-07-02) reported that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has not yet decided to release millions of dollars in funding that was fenced-off for conditional usage by the General Assembly. The standoff includes some funding for county governments for school construction and Program Open Space (POS).
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the disputed funding includes $127 million for school construction, $8.5 million in local POS funding, $4 million for testing rape kits, and $3 million in aid for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The debate has both policy and political overtones.
The Sun article included various reactions from members of the General Assembly who urged Hogan to release the funding and the response from the Hogan Administration. From the Sun article:
Del. Maggie McIntosh, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the lack of a decision by Monday impacts real people and projects that face an uncertain future.
“It plays havoc with local governments and nonprofits’ budgeting process,” McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat, said. “It’s not a logical or rational thing to do to these folks.” …
Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan, said in mid-June that Hogan would make a decision on the fenced-off funding “in the coming weeks.” …
“Governor Hogan has repeatedly warned the legislature against playing political games with the budget and jeopardizing funding for critical programs,” Ricci said. “They simply aren’t taking fiscal responsibility and accountability seriously, and now the state faces a $961 million budget deficit.”
The article noted that the Governor can choose to release only some of the funding components. The ongoing debate has also resulted in the creation of a Twitter hashtag – #FreeTheFunds.