- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gov. Larry Hogan introduced a third supplemental budget Thursday to provide additional money for K-12 education, college projects and heroin addiction and treatment, funding Democratic priorities that were left out of his initial budget.

“Education has and always will be a top priority for our administration, and moving forward with these important projects at Maryland universities will benefit college students for decades,” Mr. Hogan said in a statement.

“Additionally, as part of an agreement with members of the General Assembly, we are providing $13.8 million in additional one-time K-12 education funding, including $12.7 million for Baltimore city schools and $1.1 million for Calvert County. With this supplemental submitted and a number of critical issues and priorities addressed, we look forward to seeing the budget pass smoothly through the Senate and House over the final weeks of session.”

The supplemental budget includes $46.2 million for construction projects at Morgan State University, Coppin State University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and the Universities at Shady Grove.

Mr. Hogan also directed $3 million toward drug addiction treatment services in prisons, a top priority of his administration as the state faces an uptick in heroin-related deaths, and $13.8 million for the Department of Human Resources to replace “outdated, cumbersome and inefficient” computer systems.

The governor’s office said the additional spending is offset by new savings from developments such as fewer Marylanders enrolling in Medicaid.

The supplemental comes after Democratic lawmakers criticized the Republican governor’s plans to direct $35.6 million toward the demolition and redesign of Baltimore’s jail, urging him instead to fund education projects he had postponed.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Baltimore Democrat, said both parties are inching closer to a budget agreement now that the supplemental has been introduced.

“I’ll tell you, he brought a lot of [our concerns] down in the supplemental — you know, Morgan, Shady Grove, all of the college projects, school money,” Ms. McIntosh said. “There were a number of them. … There’s very little negotiation left after this supplemental.”

Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, Baltimore Democrat, took to the Senate floor Thursday to thank Mr. Hogan for caring about Baltimore students and the school system.

“The Budget and Tax Committee, as we said earlier, want to thank him and his colleagues for doing the right thing,” Mr. McFadden said.

The legislature cannot add money to the budget, only cut funding levels. In years when the budget does not have a companion bill to alter mandated spending formulas, the General Assembly has little leeway to move money around — a point of contention this year, as Mr. Hogan fully funded all of the mandates but did not introduce a companion bill.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the supplemental would bridge differences between the General Assembly and the governor, who have sparred throughout the legislative session over funding priorities.

“The budget has winners and losers, and we find everyone has won here,” said Mr. Miller, Calvert Democrat.

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