Hogan urges new legislature not to 'recklessly' spend huge surpluses

Hogan urges new legislature not to ‘recklessly’ spend huge surpluses


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled a draft budget Thursday with major investments in mental health facilities and warned the new administration that spending the state’s large stockpile of cash would be unwise.

His proposal could serve as the basis for what Governor-elect Wes Moore presents to the General Assembly in January and largely represents the needs of state agencies, but Hogan chose to release his plan publicly and highlight some of its own priorities.

It did not include a lump sum for proposed state spending. The final budget will go through an unprecedented process in Maryland: Starting next year, the legislature can rewrite budgets, thanks to a state constitutional amendment passed in 2020 after years of Democratic lawmakers’ struggle with Hogan on spending choices.

“It would be a mistake for the legislature to use its newly expanded budgetary power to revert to its old ways of plundering the rainy day fund or recklessly spending the surplus,” Hogan told reporters at a conference in press in Annapolis. Maryland has a $2.5 billion surplus plus an additional $3 billion in its “rainy day” savings account.

Hogan (R) outlined proposals for community grants, hospitals, police retention and the environment, among other initiatives. But he did not recommend using the huge reserve of extra cash to fund tax relief, which had been a top priority for his administration.

“Obviously we could recommend that they continue that trend, but I’m not sure they have the same philosophy as us,” Hogan said of the incoming administration.

Moore, a Democrat, will take over with a General Assembly that holds even larger Democratic supermajorities than Hogan has faced in his two terms.

Maryland has had record budget surpluses since the start of the pandemic.

The injection of billions in federal aid — both directly into state bank accounts and indirectly into the economy from stimulus checks — has left the state with huge sums to spend for three straight years. .

Previous surpluses have gone to an array of construction projects, checks to the working poor, the state education system and many other destinations. Hogan proposed keeping the state savings account — his “rainy day” fund — at nearly 2.5 times the amount recommended by budget experts.

He also launched hospital projects, including $100 million to upgrade a University of Maryland medical system facility in Easton on the east coast, and $100 million for Sheppard Pratt to expand medical facilities. mental health services, including a new children’s mental health hospital in Towson. Hogan proposed an additional $10 million for an osteopathic medicine center in Hagerstown run by Meritus Health, plus $10 million for a new pediatric center in East Baltimore run by the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

The governor also highlighted nearly $6 million to combat hate crimes and acts of anti-Semitism, including $5 million for local governments and $800,000 for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland to create a training program focused on Asian American issues and communities.

Hogan said his administration worked with members of Moore’s transition team to craft the proposal. Brian Adam Jones, a spokesman for Moore, said in a statement, “We appreciate Governor Hogan’s suggestions.

Moore campaigned on an inclusive message to ‘leave no one behind’ and end systemic issues like child poverty and income inequality, arguing that the state’s huge surplus could fund sweeping change to difficult problems.

“Our current fiscal situation demands that we be strategic, intentional and responsible,” Jones’ statement continued., suggesting that the administration would have a different proposal.

Jones said the next administration’s budget will reflect “Moore’s vision and priorities to move Maryland forward with bold and disciplined investments in transportation, strengthen our competitiveness, and provide Marylanders with a world-class education.”

Responding to a reporter’s question, Hogan said he would refrain from criticizing the new administration if it took the state in a different direction.

“I always tell people what I think, but I’ll do my best not to comment on the day-to-day decision-making of the next administration,” Hogan said.

“I am very pleased that we have completed the work we planned to do, and I wish them the best in their future endeavours,” he added. “But I don’t think I’m going to spend my time commenting on their actions.”

Hogan plans to launch a presidential campaign after leaving office.

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