The Perfect Storm for County Budgets… Part Deux

A storm is brewing. Rising costs, sluggish growth, unfunded mandates, and greater demand for services all signal turbulent times ahead for county government budgets. Economic instability, shifting demographics, and the ambitious, multi-billion-dollar overhaul of Maryland’s education system only exacerbate the growing pressure on county budgets. At this year’s MACo Winter Conference, MACo’s Budget and Finance Affiliate hosted a panel discussion on the economy, best practices for planning, budgeting, forecasting, and strategies for how counties can…

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Preview the 2020 Session “Big Picture”

A compilation of Issue Papers previews major fiscal and policy issues facing the General Assembly in the year ahead. This resource is a handy guide to the top issues that your legislators will be tackling in 2020 – a great preparation document for county officials in advance of meetings with their local Delegations. Developed by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS), the 2020 Issue Papers are an annual staple for the Annapolis policy-inclined population. They are also…

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City Council Approves Public Campaign Financing Option

The Baltimore City Council today approved legislation to establish public campaign financing for candidates seeking City elective office. The voluntary program would allocate matching funds to candidates who agree not to accept individual donations larger than $150 or donations from corporations, unions, and political action committees (PACS). According to WYPR: For example, mayoral candidates must raise either $40,000 or receive donations from 500 individuals or more to tap into the fund; candidates for comptroller or…

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Workgroup: Adult-Use Cannabis Legislation Not Ready for Prime Time in 2020 Session

The leaders of the Maryland General Assembly's Marijuana Legalization Workgroup have indicated that they will not be endorsing legislation legalizing recreational use of marijuana for the upcoming 2020 session. Rather, the group will continue to study and work through the remaining legalization issues for a possible path forward in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reports: “I think the consensus is: We are not recommending legislation this session to legalize adult use,” said Del. Kathleen Dumais, who…

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Maryland Joins Multi-State Appeal Challenging SALT Cap Ruling

Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York today filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to continue litigation against the federal government for its cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). The SALT deduction allows taxpayers to subtract state and local income, sales and property taxes from their federal tax payment. The 2017 federal tax overhaul capped SALT deductions at $10,000 – a move…

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Sun: It Wasn’t Kirwan’s Job To Say How To Pay For Its Plan

The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board continues its missives on the proposed education plan by refuting the argument that the Kirwan Commission "failed" to develop a financing plan for its recommendations - something that was never in its charge. By now, every stakeholder (and Conduit Street reader) knows the basics:  Maryland is about to fully debate an ambitious and expensive plan to bring our public schools to "world class" status. The plan is the product of…

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State Awards $9 Million in Tax Credits to Revitalize Historic Buildings

Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), a division of the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning), has awarded eight projects more than $9 million in tax credits in order to encourage private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings and promote investment in local economies. The private sector will invest more than $180 million in the eight projects, which are expected to create more than 600 jobs, according…

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Baltimore County Wins $1.65 Million Grant for Towson Circulator

Baltimore County has won a federal grant award to support the launch of a Towson Circulator pilot. The $1.65 million grant, announced today by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, was requested by County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration as it seeks to create innovative transportation options for Baltimore County residents. “The Towson Circulator will be a critical project that will better connect residents between where they…

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Comptroller Announces Largest Tobacco Bust in Agency History

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced the largest tobacco bust in the agency’s history—nearly a half-million dollars of untaxed tobacco products seized representing a tax loss to the state of more than $286,000. During early-morning raids on November 5 at multiple locations in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, agents from the Field Enforcement Division (FED) discovered a large-scale operation to import and distribute untaxed tobacco products and cigarettes in the state. The year-long investigation,…

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