ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Democrats and Republicans remained mired in political gamesmanship Friday, with the GOP criticizing Democrats for not acting on Gov. Larry Hogan’s revised budget plans and Democrats saying the Republican governor’s plans undermine bipartisan budget legislation already approved by the Legislature.
Squabbling in Maryland’s budget standoff persisted as lawmakers faced a midnight Monday deadline, when the 90 day legislative session is scheduled to end. The session could be extended 10 days to focus exclusively on the budget.
Republicans in the House of Delegates criticized Democrats who control the chamber for not bringing two of Hogan’s supplemental budgets before lawmakers to consider. One of them adds money for the governor’s tax-relief measures, which have not been acted on in the House. The other, released Thursday, restores $75 million in an extra payment to shore up the state’s pension system.
“If any of us were to introduce legislation and it not be given the proper due process, hey, that’s insulting,” said Del. Nic Kipke, a Republican from Anne Arundel County who is the House minority leader. “And my concern is that while some may not approve or support entirely aspects of the supplemental, isn’t it the right thing to do to allow the process to continue?”
But Democrats contend the governor’s recent proposals undermine budget legislation that was approved 129-10 in the House and 46-0 in the Senate.
“It’s supplemental budgets No. 2 and 3, that I would suggest, those supplemental budgets actually undermine the process,” said Del. Bill Frick, D-Montgomery.
The governor, who has strong budget authority in Maryland, submits supplemental budgets to appropriate new spending. They enabled the governor to correct errors or omissions in his initial budget plan.
But Democrats argued that Hogan’s supplemental budgets themselves were flawed, technically as well as politically.
Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who heads the House Appropriations Committee, said a $5 million provision in Hogan’s second supplemental budget relies on money in the state’s Cigarette Restitution Fund, but she said there isn’t $5 million in the fund to pay for it.
“So there’s a problem with that supplemental budget,” she said.
The Democratic-led Legislature and the Republican governor are largely facing off over about $203 million in added funding for education, Medicaid and a cost-of-living adjustment for state employees that Hogan did not include in his initial budget plan in January to help address a $750 million budget shortfall. Democrats have restored the funding, but Hogan has said he wants to see more action on his stalled tax-relief legislation before he would agree to allow the spending to go forward.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Calvert County Democrat who has tried to work with Hogan on some of his initiatives, said Hogan’s push Thursday to restore $75 million in the added pension payment was “a bombshell” that has derailed talks.
“They were going swimmingly up until yesterday afternoon,” Miller said. “Then, the governor just decided he’d had enough conversations with the speaker, didn’t want to have any more and dropped a bombshell on us. He took away $75 million we were using to fund education, give 2 percent to state employees, Medicaid funding to the poor and deserving persons, and put it in the pension fund. So we’re kind of scrambling right now. I think everything will be fine; we just have to go back to the table.”
(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)