BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The State of Maryland has officially closed the book on the last fiscal year with a multi-billion dollar balance.

Comptroller Peter Franchot said the federal stimulus is the primary reason for the $2.5 billion balance, as well as higher than normal income and sales tax collections.

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Franchot, who’s running for governor, wants most of that to go into the state’s rainy day fund until officials identify the most pressing needs.

“That money should go to people that need it the most,” said Chrissy Holt of Our Revolution Maryland

Our Revolution, a political action committee chaired by Holt, has been pushing for eviction relief and other protections for the vulnerable throughout the pandemic.

“If you have excess, surplus money, why don’t you fully fund the government agencies that are specifically designed to help people?” she wondered.

Notably, Maryland was among the states that dipped into its rainy day funds to fill budget hopes during the pandemic. Now, it has the opposite problem.

In a statement announcing the sizable surplus, Franchot called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in programs that lift all Marylanders and help stabilize housing and other critical expenses for lower- and middle-income families.”

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“This is one-time only money. We should not just spend it,” Franchot told WJZ.

The hefty balance is 25 times more than the state usually has.

The state collected nearly 30 percent more in corporate taxes than it estimated. But Franchot said the biggest reason for the surplus was stimulus money.

“A fire hydrant of federal cash totaling $70 billion over the last 16 months,” he said.

The board of revenue estimates meets on Thursday.

Franchot is advocating much of the balance be set aside in the state’s rainy day fund as they determine which people need help the most.

He said there’s no crystal ball for future budgets, but he is certain we need to put the pandemic behind us.

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“No vaccinations, no economy. That’s the bottom line,” Franchot added.

Paul Gessler