- The Washington Times - Friday, February 5, 2016

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday morning that he would be putting $15 million in a supplemental budget for the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center, easing what has been a point of contention between his administration and General Assembly Democrats.

In the proposed supplemental, the Prince George’s hospital will receive $15 million in the upcoming budget, and the $55 million over five years. The hospital has been a top priority for the county, which is the second-largest jurisdiction in the state, and advocates said the money is critical to keeping the hospital afloat while a new, state-of-the-art hospital is built in Largo.

“It’s been a long, sad story about the Prince George’s hospital system and this, we believe, is a tremendous solution to decades of problems there,” Mr. Hogan said, speaking to reporters Friday.

The deal was struck with representatives from the University of Maryland Medical System, the entity overseeing the transition. The money would go to Dimensions Healthcare, which runs the current hospital.

The University of Maryland Medical System CEO, Robert A. Chrencik, said he was optimistic about Mr. Hogan’s plan.

“We think what the governor has put together here is really what will make that happen,” Mr. Chrenick said.

The announcement comes two days after Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Prince George’s and Calvert Counties Democrat, gave Mr. Hogan an ultimatum: release the $15 million that he has been withholding from the hospital, or he would move forward on legislation to mandate the funds.

Mr. Hogan’s proposed budget was released last month and did not contain the money for the hospital.

The supplemental budget could halt Democrats’ efforts to push forward on the funding mandate bill, Mr. Miller said — but the governor would have to be open to funding the $15 million for this fiscal year as well.

“There’s two issues. One, in the bill we passed, we couldn’t legislate for this year, so what the governor did, he put down a bill $15 million 2016 [through] 2017,” Mr. Miller said. “Obviously, we’d like the $15 million for this year, another $15 million for next year, so we’ll see what we can do with that. Secondly, we’d like to have a memorandum of understanding [to guarantee future payments]. But we’re very grateful for what the governor’s done.”

The $55 million is in addition to $135 million for the new hospital construction, a spokesperson for the governor said.

The supplemental budget only included money for the hospital project, but no funds for Mr. Hogan’s project to demolish vacant homes in Baltimore. The governor introduced the wide-reaching program last month, pledging $700 million over 10 years but did not include any of the money in his budget. He promised that $75 million for the upcoming budget would be committed in a supplemental budget.

Mr. Hogan said he was waiting on the city to sign a memorandum of agreement before delivering on his pledge, and that his office had sent city officials the document a month ago.

“We were anxiously waiting for the city so we can move forward. My understanding is that yesterday, their housing director signed off on it,” Mr. Hogan said. “It now goes to the Board of Revenue Estimates. We’ve been waiting. We’re hoping to [release another supplemental budget] as soon as next week, as soon as the city finally acts.”

The supplemental budget would have be approved along with the main budget by the legislature. It is currently in the Senate, and will move to the House.

• Anjali Shastry can be reached at ashastry@washingtontimes.com.

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