House Moves on Budget, Senate Passes Capital Budget
Yesterday, the Maryland House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to Governor Martin O’Malley’s $39 billion budget for fiscal year 2015, which increases by nearly $2 billion over last year. The House version contains the same $200 million cut to the state contribution to the state retiree pension fund as passed by the Senate
Despite his claims of $9 billion in cuts, when it’s all said and done, state spending under Governor O’Malley will have increased by over $10 billion.
Earlier this week House Republicans offered an alternative budget that would limit spending growth to just 1 percent over FY 2014. Republicans offered their plan through the amendment process, and House Democrats, who hold an overwhelming majority, shot down every single amendment. Those amendments included:
- Across the board spending reduction including mandated education spending formulas;
- Major cuts to the troubled Maryland Health Benefit Exchange;
- Cut state Medicaid funs for late term abortions;
- Cutting $4.8 million from the Division of Information Technology and Finance and Administration;
- Cutting stem cell research;
- Halt major information technology projects and deficiency appropriations for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange until the Exchange offers remediation plans to legislature;
- Restrict Maryland State Police funding for ballistic finger printing;
- Redirect $1.7 million in business development subsidies to cuts in local education aid;
- Withhold $250,000 in geographic cost of education index funding from Prince George’s County Schools until corrective action regarding legislative audit findings is made.
Maryland Reporter noted two other amendments not available on the General Assembly website, which included returning the Baltimore City Detention Center to Baltimore City, and cutting the House of Cards film tax credit.
The House also passed its version of the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act or BRFA. The BRFA is legislation that balances the budget through accounting maneuvers and fund raids, like the diverting local highway user fees from the Transportation Trust Fund to cover general fund spending.
A final third reader vote by the House will come today or Friday, and a conference committee will be formed to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget
The Senate also unanimously passed its version of the state’s $1.1 billion capital budget. In addition to school construction and other capital projects, the capital budget contains the individual bond bills or pork legislators use to divert money back to their districts. This year some of those projects include:
- $2.4 million to the Alice Ferguson Foundation to design and build the Potomac Watershed Study Center;
- $250,000 for the Allegany Museum to build a green roof;
- $1 million to Center Stage to build a children’s theater;
- $15 million to Johns Hopkins University to build a high performance computer data center;
- $500,000 Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts for renovations;
- $5 million to the Maryland Zoo for infrastructure improvements;
- $250,000 to the National Sailing Hall of Fame for design and construction of a news facility;
- $1 million to City of Cambridge for replacing wharf at Sailwinds Park;
- $500,000 to Sports Legends Museum for renovations;
- $1 million to Wye River Upper School for refurbishing permanent school facility.