Maryland Senate Passes $58.5 Billion Budget Plan; Room to vote next week

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The Maryland Senate on Friday morning approved a $58.5 billion budget plan that would increase temporary cash assistance payments, fund the launch of a state-paid family leave program, direct $700 million to government construction projects and provide about $350 million in tax relief. – although lawmakers are still in the process of reaching an agreement on what form the tax relief would take.

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The Maryland Senate on Friday morning approved a $58.5 billion budget plan that would increase temporary cash assistance payments, fund the launch of a state-paid family leave program, direct $700 million to government construction projects and provide about $350 million in tax relief. – although lawmakers are still in the process of reaching an agreement on what form the tax relief would take.

“There are a lot of important things there. We really do touch a lot of lives,” Senate Budget and Taxation Chairman Guy J. Guzzone (D-Howard) told the Senate Friday morning. “…When we invest our money in something, when we attribute our value to something, we are really saying that it matters to us as a society, as a community.”

The Senate budget plan was crafted as Maryland continues to forecast higher-than-expected tax revenue. The Board of Revenue Estimates planned last week that the state surplus for this fiscal year and the next is now $7.5 billion.

After completing much of its budget work for the year, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee closed more than $1.3 billion in additional spending on Monday. Traditionally, when the legislature closes funding, the governor chooses to release that money when the next fiscal year begins July 1; Lawmakers hope to reach a deal this year with the Hogan administration that would cement the extra spending before the end of the legislative session on April 11.

Lawmakers are also negotiating with Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) and his team over a $350 million allocation for tax relief. The Senate budget plan includes a line item for tax relief, though details are still being worked out, Guzzone said.

Him and Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, both reiterated their commitment to a negotiated tax relief plan.

“There is absolutely a desire in the houses and the administration to do this. We are still in conversation. We’re getting much closer to a decision,” McIntosh said.

Ahead of Friday’s final vote on the Senate budget plan, Guzzone highlighted other targeted funding in the budget plan, including an additional $104.8 million increase in payments to retirement homes and health care providers. behavioral; an $800 million allocation to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund to support education reform; an additional $30 million for rental housing assistance to bring the budget total to $90 million; $5 million to support the launch of a new statewide 9-8-8 crisis line; and a multi-million dollar economic development plan for western Maryland.

“We are taking, I believe, the right steps … to make sure we are doing the right things for today and helping the people who need it most right now, and preparing for the future so that we continue succeed as a state,” Guzzone said. “It is, I believe, very much a reflection of our values.”

Other details of the Senate budget plan include:

  • Changing the way nearly $45.9 million in Hogan’s Re-Fund the Police Initiative is allocated. The governor has proposed increasing the state assistance package for police protection by 50% in October, which would have included an $8 million appropriation for the city of Baltimore. “However, the proposed manner of allocating these funds does not reflect a consistent distribution of where the highest instances of violent crime occur in the state,” the committee’s narrative explains. Instead, lawmakers want funding distributed to local jurisdictions in proportion to the number of violent crimes reported in the state’s official annual crime report. The amendment should direct significantly more funding to the city.
  • Restricting $500,000 from the Maryland Department of Health until a report is completed to address concerns about staffing and accreditation at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and details about federal assistance that the state received for clear an autopsy backlog.
  • Require the Hogan administration to release reports on how multiple state agencies used federal stimulus funds.

The budget also includes a change, proposed by Hogan in a supplementary budget earlier this week, of $100 million to the general fund to offset the effect of a 30-day gas tax holiday on the Transportation Trust Fund. , the Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund and improving waterways. Funds.

By Friday afternoon, the House Appropriations Committee was already hard at work adding its own amendments to the Senate budget plan. While passing a very similar bill, the House included additional funding that closed, including $46.5 million to help state agencies implement cannabis reform policies in the future, $6 million dollars to fund local health departments and domestic violence centers, and $3.5 million to support clinical training for healthcare professionals who lack training to provide abortion services in Maryland.

The budget bill is expected to be tabled in the House next week.

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