Hogan makes education, pandemic relief a priority in next Md. budget

Gov. Larry Hogan has unveiled Maryland’s new proposed budget, and both pandemic relief and education are the next fiscal year’s top priorities.

At a news conference Tuesday, Hogan said “The Relief Act of 2021” will provide over $1 billion in immediate, targeted emergency tax cuts and financial relief for families and small businesses that need it the most.

It would include rebates to nearly 400,000 Marylanders who receive the low-income tax credit, and it would repeal the income tax on unemployment benefits.

It would also give immediate sales tax credits of up to $12,000 for thousands of small businesses, “enabling them to keep more money in their pockets, to keep their businesses open and keep more people on the payroll.”

Hogan also plans to reduce retirement taxes — through more than $1 billion in cuts — in the budget.

“Even though we’re one of the best places to live in America and we have so many great things going for us, we’re losing many of our best citizens. People who have been lifelong Marylanders and have contributed so much and still have more to offer are moving to other states for one reason: our state’s sky-high retirement taxes,” Hogan said.

Another top budget priority is education, and the planned allocation of $7.5 billion eclipses the legislature’s formula for full funding by $213 million, according to Hogan.

“I’ve always believed that every single child in Maryland deserves a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” he said. “This is especially important now when we are working to address the learning loss caused by the disruption of the pandemic.”

In addition, $151 million would go toward tutoring grants for students who have fallen behind over the past year.

Infrastructure would also see additional funding, with the state setting aside $1 billion for road construction and another billion for mass transit projects.

“We are moving forward on nearly all of the highest priority infrastructure projects in every single jurisdiction all across our state,” Hogan said, “including the transformative Howard Street Tunnel project, which will dramatically increase the revenue at the Port of Baltimore and create tens of thousands of Maryland jobs.

“It’s one of the most impactful economic development job-creating projects in state history.”

Here are some of the other projects that will be funded through this budget:

  • Fully funding Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.
  • $43 million for renewable-energy programs.
  • $74.6 million in police aid to local governments.
  • A record $978 million for mental health and substance abuse programs to help combat the opioid epidemic and other mental disorders.

“If you told me last spring — when we faced the prospect of a near-fiscal Armageddon — that we would be able to introduce a budget that provides a billion in immediate tax and stimulus relief for struggling families and small businesses; that makes record investments in education, public health and other key priorities; and which is structurally balanced without any tax increases, furloughs or cuts to services, I would not have believed that it was possible,” Hogan said.

“But that is exactly what we have been able to accomplish with this [fiscal year] 2022 budget.”

It heads to the General Assembly on Wednesday for review.

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