Maryland Retains Triple-AAA Bond Rating

Maryland State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp announced this week that the three major bond rating agencies have reaffirmed the State's AAA bond rating, the longest continuous Triple-AAA bond rating for a state in the country. The announcement comes in advance of the upcoming competitive sale of State General Obligation Bonds on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. According to a press release: Maryland is one of twelve states* to hold the coveted AAA rating, the highest possible…

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$15 Minimum Wage Bill Heading to Governor Hogan

The General Assembly has passed its own final version of the "Fight for Fifteen" Minimum Wage Bill With Veto-Proof Support Levels On Wednesday, March 20, both the House and Senate passed their respective versions of the $15 minimum wage bill, thus sending the "enrolled" bill to the Governor. Under the Constitution, he has a limited window of time (six days, not including Sundays) to decide whether to veto the bill, and would have to do…

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A Legislative “Veto” On Counties’ Transportation Priorities?

The Senate has approved a new requirement in the process for counties identifying priority MDOT projects - support of the county's legislative delegation. 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…

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Governor Hogan: Costly Kirwan Bill Lacks Accountability

At a press event today, Governor Hogan criticized legislation pending before the General Assembly to support initial phases of the Kirwan Commission. In his comments, he expressed doubt that he would follow through with budget amendments necessary to provide funding in the coming fiscal year, citing a lack of meaningful oversight over those funds. From the Baltimore Sun coverage: “It is outrageous pandering to special interest groups,” Hogan said. “Paying for these proposals would require…

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House Passes Budget, Action Moves to Senate

The Maryland House of Delegates today gave final approval to HB 100, the Budget Bill, and HB 1407, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2019 ("BRFA"). The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will finalize its budget recommendations this week. Overall, the House budget increases state aid to local governments by $612.9 million (7.1%), most of which is in the form of state aid to education/libraries, which increases by $564.1 million (7.4%). House Budget Documents…

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Capital Budget: From Parks and Playgrounds to Oysters and Old Buildings

The capital budget bill spreads limited funding across various needs through capital programs open to county government applicants.  Reading through the smattering of programs included in the State Capital Budget reminds one of the breadth of the work of the State and counties throughout Maryland. From parks and playgrounds to public safety priorities, to water quality and land preservation, county governments are working to improve Maryland, and appreciate State grant funding available to support local endeavors.…

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MACo to State: Don’t Shortchange Community Colleges

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice and Queen Anne's County Commissioner Jack Wilson, MACo's Education Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair, ask the State to correct a calculation error that accounts for a $9 million decrease in fiscal year 2020 State funding for community colleges. As has been the case for many years, the State's fiscal year 2020 budget did not fully fund the Cade Community College formula. The Cade formula, named after former Senator John…

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House Budget Proposal Keeps Disparity Grant Funding Intact

The House Appropriations Committee on Friday approved a $46 billion budget that fully funds the Governor's formula-driven fiscal 2020 allocation of $146,172,853 for the Disparity Grant Program. For fiscal 2020, disparity grant funding is set to increase for Baltimore City, along with Caroline, Cecil, Prince George’s, Somerset, Washington, and Wicomico counties. The Disparity Grant Program provides noncategorical State aid to low-wealth jurisdictions for county government purposes. Disparity grants address the difference in the abilities of…

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State Lowers Two-Year Revenue Forecast $269M

The Board of Revenue Estimates today voted to adjust its official forecast for state revenues, showing a $269 million reduction in expected yields from FY 19 and FY 20. Of that amount, $138 million is attributable to expected declines in the current year. The writedowns are largely the result of taxpayer uncertainty and changing spending habits in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December 2017, that significantly revised the federal…

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Counties Support Kirwan “Blueprint” Bill as Worthy First Steps

On Wednesday, MACo Legislative Committee members Craig Rice (Montgomery), Jan Gardner (Frederick), and Laura Price (Talbot) joined Executive Director Michael Sanderson in support of SB 1030 The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The bill represents the initial steps to implement the findings of the Kirwan Commission, targeting broad changes to Maryland's support for, and expectations of, its education system. This initial bill includes a limited number of funding commitments for FY 2020 and 2021. One component…

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