Mary­land Gov.

$47.9 bil­lion Md. bud­get wouldn’t raise taxes, cut ser­vices, gov­er­nor says

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ERIN COX

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.

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