ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced a five-point framework to use the state’s $2.5 billion budget surplus.

The surplus, announced by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot last week, is about 25 times the amount of money the state usually has left over. The bulk of the surplus was attributed to stimulus funding and higher-than-anticipated tax collections.

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Democrats on Wednesday called for the money to be spent on those most in need, families who are struggling to make ends meet and facing eviction.

“Already some politicians see this (surplus) as a chance to go on a big spending spree with pet projects, big payouts to special interests and new mandated increases in spending,” Hogan said Thursday. “That is not going to happen on my watch.”

Hogan said his plan would entail the following: increasing the state’s reserves, providing major tax relief for retirees and direct tax relief to Marylanders in general

  1. Increasing the state’s reserves, or Rainy Day fund;
  2. Providing major tax relief for the state’s retirees;
  3. Offering direct tax relief to Marylanders in general;
  4. Giving additional relief to underserved residents;
  5. And boosting pay for state employees.

The state aims to shore up the Rainy Day fund by at least 7.5% to $1.67 billion.

Hogan described tax relief for retirees as a priority — and the only way to keep them from leaving Maryland for states with lower taxes.

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“Cutting retirement taxes is one of the most important things we can do and something we have been trying to accomplish for seven years. But the legislature has failed to support this critical relief for seniors,” Hogan said. “Each year when I have proposed it. Legislators have spent almost immediately rejected it saying that we can’t afford it. Now with our fiscal health stronger than ever before, what we cannot afford is failing again to take immediate action to ease the crippling tax burden on our retirees.”

Hogan said as the state puts its budget together it will continue to provide additional, targeted relief for those Marylanders who need it the most. He did not specify whether that measure fall in line with Democrats’ call to action.

The governor also spoke to the need to properly compensate state employees who “have been unwavering in their commitment throughout our COVID-19 response.”

He said his budgetary plan demonstrates an effort to practice fiscal discipline while prioritizing relief.

“My message is pretty simple,” Hogan said. “As long as I am governor, I will continue to fight for fiscal discipline. I will continue working hard every single day to make it easier for Maryland families, small businesses and retirees to stay in our state, and I will continue fighting to allow Marylanders to keep more of their hard-earned money in their own pockets, so that we can continue changing Maryland for the better.”

 

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CBS Baltimore Staff