Lawmakers on both sides find things to like in Md. governor’s budget

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s FY21 budget plan comes in volumes — this is the “highlights” book. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan briefed lawmakers on his $47.9 billion budget Wednesday morning, and members of both parties emphasized areas where they could work together.

Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat from Baltimore City, said there’s a lot to “dig into,” but was positive about the tone struck during the breakfast briefing.

“We had a good conversation,” Ferguson said. “We have a lot of areas of agreement,” but he added there were “hard conversations” ahead regarding funding for education.

Republican Sen. Andrew Serafini, a member of the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, spoke Tuesday before the budget briefing and voiced concern about the state’s structural deficit, which could grow to $1.1 billion by 2025.

“And that’s before Kirwan,” he said, referring to the education reform bill that could add $4 billion to the state’s annual education budget when fully phased in.

Serafini said public safety and transportation issues also need attention, and Hogan’s budget addresses those, including: $74.5 million for police aid to local governments, $38.7 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies and $2.6 million to add prosecutors and staff to the Office of the Attorney General.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said Wednesday morning that he had not seen the details of the budget, but he welcomes added staff in an office that handles complex legal cases. Under Hogan’s proposal, the money would be designed to target violent crime.

Hogan said there would be no new taxes in his plan.

Other highlights in the fiscal year 2021 budget:

  • $7.3 billion for K-12 education
  • $6.9 million for crime prevention, prosecution and witness protection
  • $733 million for school construction
  • $862 million for mental health and substance abuse programs
  • $340 million safety and traffic congestion relief efforts
  • $25.6 million for community programs for seniors
  • $57.2 million for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund
  • $64 million in aid to local libraries

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