Summer News: July Update
As always, you can keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or by clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
July 1st was the effective date for numerous pieces of legislation/new laws passed in Annapolis this past year. You can see the complete list here.
Some of the notable new laws are summer SNAP for hungry children; expansion of child advocacy centers; childcare tax credit expansion; clean car tax credit expansion, and expanding "P-Tech" high schools.
The Governor has refused to release hundreds of millions of dollars that were approved as part of a bipartisan, balanced budget for school construction, rape kit testing, pre-trial services, and more.
As I have previously explained, the Maryland General Assembly cannot simply add funds to programs for a forthcoming budget year because we have an executive-driven budget. The legislature's main tool for increasing funding for a specific program in the next budget is to reduce funding elsewhere in the budget and designate those funds for the specific program. Then it is up to the Governor who can either release these "fenced off funds" for the specific program or the funds simply flow back to the state's bank account. The legislature cannot increase the overall size of the state budget for the next budget year.
During the 2019 legislative session, the Governor introduced a budget of $46,607,000,000, with a projected deficit next year of over $1 billion (we have to pass a balanced budget, unlike the federal government, and that $1 billion will have to be addressed during the next legislative session). The General Assembly did its typical work on the budget and shrunk its over all size to $46,599,000,000 with a projected deficit next year of $961 million. As part of this process, the General Assembly set aside $244 million in "fenced off funds" including $127 million for school construction. The Governor declined to release these funds, falsely claiming that he was doing so to rein in out of control legislative spending, even though this was not new spending but dollars redirected as part of an overall smaller budget than what the Governor proposed. Notably, the fenced off funds approach is not new and this Governor—and previous Governors—have often released funding for important programs in this way.
For an interesting perspective on Maryland's budget, here is an op-ed written by the long-time but now retired head of the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services.
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