The votes are still being counted in Maryland, but there are some groups confident in a win for the ballot items they favored.
Figures from the Maryland State Board of Elections indicate there are still 163,943 mail-in ballots to be counted in Montgomery County and 58,265 in Prince George’s County.
Maryland State Sen. Jim Rosapepe said he has no reason to believe statewide Question 1 won’t pass once all the votes are counted.
Question 1 is the proposed change to the state’s constitution that gives legislators in Annapolis the authority to increase, decrease or add items to the state budget. Rosapepe called the measure “a victory for democracy.”
Under the current budget process in Maryland, the governor draws up a budget and submits it to lawmakers for approval.
Members of the General Assembly cannot add items to the budget or shift monies around within the spending plan. Rosapepe said, “Traditionally in Maryland, it’s been like begging the king for funding for services and projects in your area.”
Rosapepe says Question 1 would “create a much healthier, more cooperative, constructive relationship annually in the budget process between the governor and the legislature.”
In October, Gov. Larry Hogan made clear his position on Question 1, calling it “a blatant cash and power grab of multi-billion dollar proportions.”
But Rosapepe sees nothing but upsides under a system where lawmakers get more budget authority. Rosapepe said, “It’s exactly what people wish there was more of in Washington — it would drive compromise. That’s good for everybody.”
The measure would not take effect until FY 2024.
As of Thursday night, figures from the Maryland State Board of Elections showed 73.9% of the votes tabulated in favor of the Constitutional amendment and 26.1% against.
Elsewhere, a coalition of groups that supports Montgomery County’s Ballot Question A, which would change the property tax formula is claiming a win.
Under Question A, the property tax rate would be capped to the level of the previous year’s rate. It would take a unanimous vote by the county council to change that.
A number of groups that came together under the umbrella of “Montgomery Neighbors Against Question B” declared in a Facebook post that “we successfully took our message to voters about the County ballot questions.”
The group supports Question A and as the name suggests, opposes Question B which would bar the council from raising the property tax rate under any circumstance. Any increase would be tied to the rate of inflation.
According to the vote tally posted Thursday night, 61.5% of Montgomery County voters supported Question A and 57% voted against Question B.
According to Seventh State, a Maryland political blog, Moody’s Investors Service referred to Question A as a “credit positive” for Montgomery County, which has a AAA bond rating with the agency.
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