- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate voted Wednesday to mandate spending to transition to a new Prince George’s County Regional Medical Center - angering the governor’s office, which has been working on a separate agreement that the governor’s staff says would increase accountability for the center’s success.

After the vote, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Prince George’s and Calvert counties, thanked Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for working to broker a deal, and said he’s in accord with Hogan. But Miller also said the process is taking too long, now that the legislative session is more than half over. He blamed lawyers for dragging out the process, and he said some of their conclusions about the agreement weren’t acceptable to all parties.

The issue has been part of overall political friction between the governor and the legislature this session.

The measure would set aside about $461 million altogether in operating and capital money from the state and matching funds from the county from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2021, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.

Five Republicans joined 31 Democrats in voting for the measure. All nine in opposition were Republicans, some of whom asked to delay a vote to provide more time for the governor’s agreement to be finalized.

“It’s a guarantee that it’s going to get done, whereas if the lawyers are involved, probably all of them are paid by the hour to keep the damn negotiations going, it would never get done, so we decided this is the way to go,” Miller said.

Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, said the Senate president “reneged on a promise.” Clark said Miller had committed to work with the administration to ensure that a memorandum of understanding would be completed and that all parties would continue to negotiate in good faith to find a solution that includes the state, county, the University of Maryland Medical System and Dimensions HealthCare System.

“Instead, Senator Miller has opted for a hastily-crafted, one-size-fits-all bill that mandates more state spending but fails to hold the Prince George’s County, UMMS, Dimensions or anyone else accountable for the success of the new Medical Center in Prince George’s County,” Clark said in a statement. “It’s a waste of time, it’s pure politics and another step in the wrong direction.”

Jake Weissmann, a spokesman for Miller, said the bill follows up on a commitment by the state and county, dating back several years. Supporters consider the long-delayed plan crucial to health care in one of the state’s largest jurisdictions near the nation’s capital and the region of southern Maryland.

“This simply codifies the commitment of the state, county and the University of Maryland Medical System to bring a world-class regional medical and trauma center to Prince George’s County that benefits all of southern Maryland,” Weissmann said.

Democrats, who control the legislature, were critical of the governor for not including money for the hospital in his initial budget plan this year. Early last month, Hogan submitted a supplemental budget that included $15 million for the next fiscal year as part of a plan that called for investing $55 million over five years to transition the new center.

The bill now goes to the House.

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