Maryland stands alone among states in how much power it gives the governor in its budget process. Only a handful of states limit the ability of the legislature to increase spending. And Maryland is the only state in which only the governor can directly add items or amounts to the budget.
Section 52 of Article III of the Maryland Constitution prohibits the General Assembly from increasing any budget item, adding any new appropriations to the governor’s budget for Executive Branch agencies, or moving funds from one program to another.
Maryland legislators are limited in their budgetary power to reduce or eliminate appropriations from governors’ proposed budgets. And the General Assembly cannot increase programmatic funding unless lawmakers create a new revenue source.
But, starting with the fiscal 2024 budget, state lawmakers will have more say in the operating budget. In 2020, voters approved a Constitutional Amendment to allow state lawmakers to move items around in the budget. In turn, the governor will have line-item veto power for the operating budget. Under current law, the governor may only line-item veto parts or all of the capital budget.
Starting with the fiscal 2024 budget:
- The General Assembly may now increase, reduce, or add to the budget. The General Assembly may also restrict funding for different purposes.
- The legislature must pass a budget equal to or less than the budget proposed by the governor. Any restricted or fenced-off funding is left to the governor’s discretion to release.
- Under the new constitutional amendment, the governor may issue line-item vetoes on items that the General Assembly added to the budget.
- The General Assembly must still enact a balanced budget.