Maryland lawmakers say Rainy Day funds help budget holes

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland lawmakers say Gov. Larry Hogan is using some of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to fill budget holes.

Lawmakers from both parties met at the governor’s residence Tuesday morning to get a briefing on Hogan’s budget proposal.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Democrat, says about $177 million in Rainy Day Funds help balance the budget. The fund contains more than the targeted amount of 5 percent of the state budget.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says there are less cuts than lawmakers expected, and education is fully funded. “That’s what rainy day funds are for,” he said.

But Maryland Senator Jim Rosapepe was alarmed by the news that up to $177 million in rainy day money was tapped. “If it’s true that he’s taking money from the rainy day fund when it’s not a rainy day, that suggests some serious problems in fiscal management. We’re going to have to look at the details.”

Some lawmakers who attended say they only got a basic overview during the breakfast at the governor’s residence, and that there is still a lot to digest.

Madaleno was among the state lawmakers who were briefed on the governor’s spending plan. He was unimpressed, saying the presentation was short on specifics. “I want to see the details, because otherwise, it seems like just a budget loaded with gimmicks.”

Hogan acknowledged that his plan appears rosy. “It sounds too good to be true– but it is true…there are no serious cuts, almost every service and everything that was in last year’s budget is increased or level-funded.”

Hogan introduced his 17.1 billion dollar operating budget for FY2018. Included in the budget:

  • $6.4 billion dollars for K-12 education
  • $1.35 billion dollars for the university system in Maryland
  • $256.1 million dollars for community colleges
  • $17.5 million dollars for tuition relief (that caps tuition increases to 2 percent)
  • Nearly $24 million dollars for Maryland Economic Assistance Authority and Fund
  • $4 million in substance abuse funding
  • Adding beds for addiction treatment
  • $51 million dollars added to Chesapeake and Atlantic Bay Trust Fund
  • $7 million dollars added to security at correctional facilities
  • $7 million dollars added to State Police vehicle replacement program
  • $1.9 million added for Natural Resources Police
  • $22 million dollars for “blight removal” in Baltimore City
  • $14 million dollars for economic development and tourism in cities (including Hagerstown, Cumberland, Salisbury)

Also proposed is tax relief for police, firefighters and military retirees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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