The Good: As required by the state Constitution, the budget is balanced in the next fiscal year and education programs are funded consistent with state law. There is also state funding provided for school construction in districts with high rates of growth (a major priority for Montgomery County), Suburban Hospital, Imagination Stage, Montgomery College, and many programs that affect our County and District, including a 2% cap on University System of Maryland enrollment increases.
The Bad: The state's budget for capital transportation projects is reduced by $1.5 billion, funding for those who work with our disabled is cut, reductions in a healthcare tax are being slowed, and costs for certain state operations are shifted to the local jurisdictions.
The Hypocritical: Putting together the state budget is a complicated exercise that requires tough choices, but the Governor engaged in many actions in this year's proposal that he has heavily criticized the legislature for in the past. For example, he reduces the planned contribution to the state pension system, shifts dollars from the Rainy Day fund, and leaves future years with heavy projected deficits.
The budget will take up most of my committee's time over the next several weeks as we review each agency's budget request.
You can always keep up with what I am doing by following me at @mkorman on Twitter or clicking "Like" on Delegate Marc Korman on Facebook.
Since my last email update, I have introduced two pieces of legislation.
District 16 had big news in the legislature this past week when Delegate Bill Frick was appointed Majority Leader. Delegate Frick has represented our district since 2007 and has been serving as Parliamentarian. Congratulations Bill!
Last year I introduced the Public Service Commission ("PSC") Reform Act in an attempt to update how our state agency that regulates electric companies and other utilities performs. The bill did not advance through the Committee of jurisdiction but a small part of the bill--adding PSC personnel to the state government's customer service training program established by the legislature in 2015--was included as part of the budget. The state Department of Commerce recently issued a report regarding expanding the customer service initiative and stated that it plans to include quasi-independent agencies, such as the PSC.
The Governor's proposed budget includes an operating subsidy increase for Metro requested by Metro's General Manager. The increase of approximately $40 million is welcome, but even with this stepped up commitment, the proposed Metro budget would rely on riders for $50 million in the form of fare increases and reduced service. I am working with colleagues to convince Maryland and the other Metro jurisdictions to prevent or limit this effect on riders. You can read about the effort in a recentWashington Post article.
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