2% CUT IMPACT: Lawmakers who head the General Assembly’s two budget committees asked the administration Friday for details of the impact of Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed 2% across-the-board budget cut to agency budgets, reports Michael Dresser of the Sun. Sen. Edward Kasemeyer and Del. Maggie McIntosh, who chair the Senate Budget and Taxation and House Appropriations committees, sent a letter to Budget Secretary David Brinkley asking him to spell out the implications of the cut on the programs, personnel and services at each agency.
WHAT SCHOOL CUTS? Gov. Larry Hogan went on the defensive Friday morning when asked to explain why he has proposed to cut education funding by $144 million. “Well, first of all, it’s not true,” Hogan said during the Marc Steiner Show’s annual “Annapolis Summit” broadcast. “We haven’t cut education. I’m spending more on K-through-12 education than any governor in the history of the state. We actually increased spending on education. . . . We just didn’t increase at the rate that people would like us to and that we would like to, frankly.” So, asks Jenna Johnson for the Post, what’s the truth?
- Here’s Marc Steiner’s 23-minute interview with Gov. Hogan during his annual “Annapolis Summit.” The program aired on WEAA-FM.
USM CENTER UNBUDGETED: Funding to move forward with the University System of Maryland’s plans to build a $70 million center for engineering research, development and instruction on a campus adjacent to the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport is not included in Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget plans for next fiscal year, report Jason Babcock and Nicole Clark for SoMdNews.
BUDGET GIMMICKS: During the campaign that took him to the State House, Gov. Larry Hogan frequently railed against former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s use of “gimmicks” to balance the budget. But, report Timothy Wheeler and Michael Dresser for the Sun, critics say Hogan’s spending plan for next year employs some of the same fiscal tricks — moving money from one pot to another to achieve technical balance in the $16.4 billion general fund budget.
- WYPR’s Fraser Smith talks to UB professor and former Secretary of State John Willis about the ins and outs of balancing a budget.
- Political prognosticator Barry Rascovar, writing in MarylandReporter.com, says, think of the budget as a balloon. The governor decides how much air gets pumped into the balloon … the legislature can let out some of that air — but it can’t expand the size of the balloon at all. This year …. Hogan gave the legislature a dramatically smaller balloon to play with. And there’s nothing lawmakers can do to create a bigger budget balloon short of raising taxes — pretty much of a non-starter this year.
HOGAN’S FOCUS: In a column for Center Maryland, Tom Coale predicts that while Gov. Hogan came into office with an eye on budget issues, he’ll soon turn his gaze toward the social issues that he said were off the table. But don’t expect him to be a hard-line Republican.
OPENING WEEKS: On the Anne Arundel County Public Affairs Now cable TV show, House Speaker Michael Busch and MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick discuss the opening weeks of the Maryland General Assembly with host Karla Schaffer. (Photo above) County Executive Steve Schuh and Council Chairman Jerry Walker also testify before the local delegation.
CHILD ABUSE CASES: Two bills that would lengthen the time Maryland holds on to the records of unproved cases of child abuse and neglect are getting broad support from state officials and children’s advocacy groups, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital.
SEN. PUGH’S AGENDA: In this four-minute video for Center Maryland, Senate majority leader Catherine Pugh discusses some of the bills she will be focused on this legislative session, including an injured baby fund paid for by hospitals.
LEGALIZING POT: The Sun’s Timothy Wheeler reports that, in a year when budget cuts dominate debate in Annapolis, advocates for legalizing marijuana are mounting a renewed effort to get Maryland to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington state – if not now, then in a year or two.
PURPLE LINE SUIT: Purple Line opponents say they remain concerned about the proposed light rail’s environmental impacts, even though a research team did not find an endangered species of amphipod in its planned path, and they plan on continuing with their lawsuit to stop the project, Elizabeth Waibel writes in the Gazette.
LOUDER RURAL VOICE: Legislators at the Eastern Shore delegation meeting on Friday discussed ongoing and future efforts to strengthen rural Maryland’s voice in Annapolis. Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat reports that there are multiple groups advocating for answers to rural issues in the state legislature, and Friday’s conversation led toward organizing efforts into one for greater influence.
SHANK REFLECTS: Kaustuv Basu of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes a piece about Chris Shank, who spent two decades in the General Assembly, was re-elected to the state Senate unopposed in November, became minority whip, joined Gov. Hogan’s transition team, then was appointed by Hogan to head the Office of Crime Control and Prevention.
MILLER & BUSCH: In this almost hourlong interview during his annual Annapolis Summit, Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM interviews both Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.
MILLER’S POWER: Paul Schwartzman of the Post profiles Senate President Mike Miller, whose power in Annapolis is uncontested.
- Schwartzman also interviews Senate President Miller about the differences between Gov. Larry Hogan, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Miller himself.
FROSH SPEAKS: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM, as part of his annual “Annapolis Summit,” interviews new Attorney General Brian Frosh. The interview lasts about 30 minutes.
- Frosh told Steiner that he wanted to make government documents more accessible under the Maryland Public Information Act, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. “We want to make government open. We want to make (government) transparent. We want to make it easy for people to get information. I think my office can help do that.”
HOGAN’S UNWELCOME SIGNS: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks takes a close look at Gov. Hogan’s new welcome signs, which declare that Maryland is “open for business,” and finds them out of date and cheesy.
LEGGETT PULLS AGENCY PROPOSAL: After a week of questions and withering criticism, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett withdrew his proposal Saturday for a new independent agency to finance and operate a planned network of bus-only traffic lanes. The County Council had been expected to vote Monday on whether to support the state legislation, writes Bill Turque for the Post.
BEHIND THE CONTRACT: Michael Dresser of the Sun looks at the behind the scenes happenings with the contract with a Maine agency that was the first one rejected by Gov. Larry Hogan during his very first Board of Public Works meeting.
BALTIMORE’S TRANSIT: Frank DeFilippo, writing for Splice Today, reports on Baltimore City’s transportation system and how it remains a puzzle even after 50 years.
STREET POLICING IN SCHOOLS: Jenny Egan, a juvenile public defender, in an op-ed for the Sun, recounts a situation in Baltimore City in October 2014 in which a police officer stationed within a school sent three girls to the hospital after hitting one with her baton and pepper spraying the other two. “It is … the kind of violence that we can expect precisely because police are inside schools,” she writes, addressing the street tactics police officers are trained to use but are importing them inside the schools.
O’MALLEY PACKED PAC: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s political action committee finished last year with just over $900,000 in the bank, writes John Wagner for the Post. The money cannot be spent on a 2016 presidential bid, but O’Malley can use the funds to maintain his political operation for the first few months of the year as he ponders whether to pursue the Democratic nomination.
MCCARTNEY DROPS COLUMNIST LABEL: Post columnist Robert McCartney announces that he is leaving political punditry to become the Post’s first regional correspondent, saying that he “will still write about pretty much the same topics … dig into politics and policy from Richmond to Annapolis. I’ll cover transit and traffic, the economy and environment, and government foul-ups and malfeasance. But I’ll stick to straight news reporting and objective analysis and refrain from taking sides in my own voice.”