Governor Hogan signed over 120 bills into law on Tuesday morning and discussed the new budget at the State House in Annapolis. CNS-TV video by Evan Sery
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland General Assembly passed the state’s $40.7 billion budget hours before the close of the session Monday evening, but left unknown is whether Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will spend more than $200 million in unallocated funds for supplemental education funding, state employee raises and subsidies for physicians who accept Medicaid, among other social programs.
Over the 90-day legislative session, the Democratic-majority legislature has been at odds with Hogan over the budget, which the first-term governor wanted to keep trim to follow through on his campaign promises of fiscal responsibility and lowering taxes.
The legislature opted to rearrange about $202 million to pay for supplemental education funding, reinstate state employee raises, and subsidies for physicians who accept Medicaid and other social programs cut in the governor’s original proposed budget. The bicameral committee representing the legislature’s budget interests finalized the spending-plan details on Friday, choosing to disregard the governor’s supplemental budgets, which had reversed some of the legislature’s spending changes.
The budget passed 10 votes shy of unanimous in the House and unanimously in the Senate three weeks before, but many Republicans changed their minds after the massive spending proposal went through the bicameral committee on Friday.
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore and Harford, said he was proud to vote for the budget three weeks ago, but was not as happy with it now.
“I’m very disappointed in what’s coming from the other chamber,” he said.
Hogan said at a news conference Monday afternoon that regardless of what happened with the budget, he considered it a “win” because it “broke the streak of 40 consecutive tax hikes.”
He also suggested that if the legislature passed the budget without passing more of his legislative agenda — including some tax repeals and cuts, the state’s public campaign-financing fund and charter school legislation — he might not approve some of the rearranged funding.
State Senator Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, said that after all the negotiations, the “ball is now in (the governor’s) court” to choose to fund education, state employee salaries, and all the other social programs.
“We’ve left it in his hands, and hopefully he won’t punish the school children of Maryland because he didn’t get all he wanted,” Madaleno, the vice chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation committee, said early Monday evening.
The House passed the budget 90 to 49, and the Senate voted for it 33 to 13. Once passed by both bodies, the budget is final without the governor’s signature, but Hogan does need to approve and allocate unmandated spending.