$47.9 billion Md. budget wouldn’t raise taxes, cut services, governor says
Larry Hogan (R) said his budget increases funding for fighting crime and expands pre-k.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the $47.9 billion budget proposal he will release Wednesday funnels more money to fighting violent crime statewide and particularly in Baltimore, expands prekindergarten and launches an enormous economic development project at the Port of Baltimore — all without raising taxes or cutting services.
Hogan (R) also said his separate capital budget would cover every backlogged school construction project in the state, enabling a proposal he and Democratic leaders have pitched to quickly build, renovate or fix schools.
The governor held a news conference Tuesday to offer highlights of what he is calling his
“accountability budget” but will not release the proposal until Wednesday, after he briefs Democratic and Republican leaders in the General Assembly.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether all of his top initiatives represented a continuation of existing programs or the decision to put additional resources behind them.
Asked about proposals that would benefit the Washington region, Hogan pointed to already-announced projects that include replacing American Legion Bridge and a hotly debated plan to build toll lanes on part of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.
The governor proposed giving Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) $2.6 million per year to hire 25 new prosecutors and support staff to investigate gun crimes, firearm trafficking and gang activity statewide. He noted that polls show crime is the top concern of residents statewide.
Hogan recently announced that he intends to use state resources to address violence in Baltimore, which has seen record homicide rates in recent years.
He said he set aside money for his plan to publish public records of how judges sentence violent criminals, an initiative he said would bring “judicial transparency” to sentencing.
And while he highlighted a $94 million expansion of prekindergarten — an initiative proposed and passed by Democrats last year — he criticized the majority party for pressing forward with a sweeping education overhaul estimated to cost $4 billion per year when fully implemented.
Hogan said “the state should not and cannot” approve the full program “without any plan whatsoever about where the funding is going to come from.”
Democratic legislative leaders, who have a veto-proof majority in both chambers of the General Assembly, have vowed to pass the overhaul and promised no traditional taxes increases to pay for it. But they have not presented a comprehensive plan to pay the tab in the long term.
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-baltimore City) is pushing a first-in-the-nation bill to tax social media platforms and Internet companies for putting targeted digital advertising on the screens of Maryland residents. Ferguson said such a tax could generate $100 million per year or more.
Meanwhile, Hogan has emphasized accountability in education, saying Monday that it’s what “Marylanders are demanding . . . to make sure that those dollars are being well spent.”
The governor highlighted a previously announced, costly project to expand the 125-yearold Howard Street Tunnel near Baltimore, which bottlenecks commerce because it is too small to accommodate double-stacked freight trains leaving the Port of Baltimore. Hogan praised progress on the long-stalled expansion as one of the biggest economic development projects in state history.
After his budget is formally unveiled Wednesday, state lawmakers will pore through it and recommend revisions.