- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he is submitting a $17.1 billion operating budget for the next fiscal year that addresses a budget shortfall partly by tapping the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Democrats noted the absence of money for a package of initiatives to help Baltimore.

Hogan outlined his budget at a news conference but isn’t releasing all the details until Wednesday. He said his plan fully funds state-mandated education formulas without tax increases or raids on dedicated special funds.

“Once again, we were able to increase and fully fund education and other priorities,” Hogan said.

Democrats briefed on the spending plan during a breakfast at the governor’s mansion said they didn’t get many details.

Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said some things were absent from the governor’s plan, including funds for a scholarship program, after school programs and other initiatives the Democrat-controlled legislature approved last year to help the city.

“Remember the Baltimore package last year? It’s not funded in this budget,” McIntosh said, adding that much of the funding for the package approved last year wasn’t included for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Hogan contends Maryland needs to deal with existing spending mandates and stop adding new ones. Hogan said the state can’t afford about $519 million in new spending mandates added by Democrats, who control the legislature.

“Some of that won’t get funded,” Hogan said, adding that the state of Maryland steers more money to the city of Baltimore “than anywhere else.”

Hogan said he planned to move forward with an initiative to demolish vacant buildings in the city, a plan he supports to reduce urban blight.

Maryland has a projected budget shortfall of about $544 million for the next fiscal year. Hogan was able to avoid more budget pain by using money in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which now holds more than the targeted 5 percent of the state’s operating budget.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, said about $177 million in Rainy Day money is being used to help fill budget holes.

“It all sounds very good in their power points,” Madaleno said. “It will be interesting to see the details, because I think a lot of it is based upon some gimmicks and rescinding everything he didn’t want us to do last year.”

Hogan said he did not include state spending to fund police reforms in Baltimore, because the city is still exploring potential costs and how to pay for them.

A U.S. Justice Department issued a report last August after investigating Baltimore police practices following the death of a shackled man in a transport van. It found that officers routinely stopped large numbers of people in poor, black neighborhoods for dubious reasons. A court-enforceable agreement was approved last week.

“There’s no request on the table for a single penny for police reform,” Hogan said, adding that a supplemental budget could be submitted later if needed. “I did meet with the mayor at length, and they’re working on that and coming up with it. It seems as if it’s going to be nowhere near the wild estimates from the previous mayor.”

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