HOGAN BUDGET: Faced with a half-billion-dollar budget gap, Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing to roll back several programs enacted to help Baltimore recover from the riots of 2015 and to freeze pay for state workers, the Sun’s Erin Cox reports. The Republican governor would also downsize a major state prison in Hagerstown, delay money for a long-desired hospital in Prince George’s County and reduce extra payments into the state’s pension system.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Senate President Mike Miller accused Gov. Larry Hogan going back on a five-year deal to provide operating funds for the struggling Prince George’s County hospital system. “We had an agreement,” Miller said after reviewing the governor’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal. “The governor is reneging on his pledge to Prince George’s hospital.”
- The first-term Republican cheerfully announced at a news conference Tuesday that he could trim spending and eliminate a $750 million deficit with “no serious cuts.” On the release of his actual budget proposal Wednesday, he triggered immediate criticism from advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers about cuts to some mandated spending increases among other items, Josh Hicks of the Post writes.
- Daniel Menefee of MarylandReporter.com reports that the budget Gov. Hogan rolled out Wednesday is short on mandatory funding increases for workers serving Marylanders with developmental disabilities — putting providers in direct competition with fast food chains, said Senate Finance chair Mac Middleton in a press briefing Wednesday.
- In Hogan’s budget proposal, Annapolis doesn’t receive an increase in money the state pays to help cover the costs of being the capital city. But the governor is proposing $1 million for a new Annapolis library, writes Amanda Yeager in the Annapolis Capital. In Anne Arundel County, Hogan’s budget includes $21.2 million for school construction projects, but cuts a mandate that would reinstate challenge grants for teachers, provided the county offers up matching funds.
- Hogan’s budget plan includes funding for a handful of Frederick County public education priorities. Danielle Gaines writes in the Frederick News Post that about $336,599 is earmarked for the LYNX School, which stands for Linking Youth to New Experiences. The funding will enable the pilot school program to make apprenticeship a central focus of students’ experiences and give them opportunities to engage with businesses throughout their schooling.
- Tamela Baker writes in the Hagerstown Herald Mail that there was good news Wednesday for Washington County in Hogan’s budget proposals for fiscal 2018, with more than $7 million slated for local projects in the capital budget and another $3.5 million for work at Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown.
- The budget cuts include the elimination of much of a $290-million package passed last year in an effort to revitalize Baltimore City, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports. Those proposed cuts include the elimination of $3 million for extended hours at the Enoch Pratt Free Library and $7.5 million for after-school and summer-school programs in jurisdictions, such as Baltimore, with large populations of students from low-income families.
- A Sun editorial is headlined: “Hogan balances his budget on Baltimore’s back” Hogan’s Facebook page refutes the editorial with a series of facts about Baltimore funding and a big red X over the editorial.
JUDICIARY SEEKS 5.4% HIKE: Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that the Maryland Judiciary seeks $576.4 million in fiscal year 2018 – a 5.4% increase from the $546.8 million appropriated for the judicial branch this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
FINAL DAY FOR MATCHING GRANT: This is the final day of a matching grant from the Knight Foundation to MarylandReporter.com, one of 57 nonprofit news organization from around the country that are receiving the matching grants for any donations received by Thursday, Jan. 19. Any donation of any size up to $1,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Knight Foundation, a major funder of nonprofit journalism. Contributions are tax deductible. So far we’ve raised over $12,000 that will be matched. This is our second major grant from the Knight Foundation. Thanks to many who have contributed, many first time donors.
FILMING SENTENCING HEARINGS: A Baltimore city delegate has reintroduced legislation to allow media organizations to film and broadcast criminal sentencing proceedings after his bill died in committee during last year’s General Assembly session, writes Heather Cobun for the Daily Record.
HOGAN SEEKS BACKGROUND CHECKS: Gov. Larry Hogan is asking people nominated to fill vacancies in the General Assembly to undergo background checks before taking their seats, infuriating Democratic leaders, Erin Cox and Pamela Wood of the Sun are reporting. Two people recently nominated to fill seats in the House of Delegates — Baltimore’s Nick Mosby and Montgomery County’s Jheanelle Wilkins — have not yet been sworn in. Both were asked by the governor’s office to submit to background checks. Neither has complied.
DELEGATE AIDE FIRED AFTER NYT ARTICLE: Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post reports that a legislative aide to a Frederick County lawmaker was fired after he was revealed Wednesday in a New York Times article to be the mastermind behind a fake political news website. Cameron Harris, an aide to Del. David E. Vogt III, previously ran the website ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, according to the Times.
- Harris, who graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina in May, had worked for the Republican delegate since June. He did not return a call for comment, but he apologized in a Twitter post to “those disappointed by my actions” and called for a “larger dialogue about how Americans approach the media” and other issues, Ovetta Wiggins writes in the Post.
NEW DELEGATE: Bilal Ali, a community liaison in the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office, was selected Wednesday to become Baltimore’s newest state delegate — part of a series of recent changes to the city’s delegation triggered by the election of Mayor Catherine Pugh and the retirement of state Sen. Lisa Gladden. Ali, an event promoter who sits on the Democratic Central Committee that made the selection, beat fellow committee member Joyce Smith in a 5-1 vote, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.
EX-DELEGATE’s ACTIONS RAISE CONCERNS: When a paint manufacturer ran into trouble with a contract with the state of Maryland, John Bohanan knew just what to do. The former Democratic state legislator, who works as a consultant for lobbying firm Cornerstone Government Affairs, opened up conversations with the secretary of the Department of General Services and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Bohanan’s actions, while not an overt violation of state lobbying laws, have raised the eyebrows of some in the small world of the state capital lobbying corps and with a watchdog group that advocates for more transparent lobbying and campaign finance laws.
EPA HOPEFUL WOULD SUPPORT BAY: President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a frequent critic of environmental regulations, appeared to offer support Wednesday for a federally directed Chesapeake Bay cleanup program he once sued to stop. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has repeatedly sued the agency he is now poised to oversee, told a Senate panel he would use his authority to enforce the pollution reductions pledged by six states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and he would push for federal funding for the bay’s restoration., Scott Dance and John Fritze of the Sun write.
FROSH URGES ‘NO’ VOTE ON SESSIONS: Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is leading a coalition of Democratic attorneys general from six states urging the Senate to reject President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Justice, the Sun’s Scott Dance and Jessica Anderson report.
$5 M IN HOGAN COFFERS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s re-election war chest swelled by nearly $4.5 million this year, campaign finance reports show, bringing his campaign accounts to $5.1 million, writes Erin Cox for the Sun. The reports were filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of a midnight deadline.
- Hogan’s predecessor, Martin O’Malley (D), had a little more than $1.7 million in the bank two years into his first term. Potential Democratic challengers to Hogan — including Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (Baltimore) and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III — had not filed their 2016 campaign finance reports as of early Wednesday evening. The reports were due by midnight, Fenit Nirappil reports in the Post..
CUMMINGS, PUGH TO ATTEND INAUGURATION: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat and a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Wednesday that he will attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration — even as dozens of other Democrats have decided against it. Cummings’ decision means that all but two Maryland lawmakers — Rep. Anthony G. Brown and Rep. Jamie Raskin — will attend Trump’s inauguration on Friday, John Fritze of the Sun is reporting.
- Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh plans to attend incoming President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration on Friday, Yvonne Wenger writes in the Sun. It’s a step toward building a relationship with the new Republican commander-in-chief, Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy said Wednesday.
FORD FOUNDATION OFFERS BALTIMORE $1M: Mayor Catherine Pugh said Baltimore will get $1 million from a social justice foundation to help pay for police reforms required by the U.S. Department of Justice. The New York-based Ford Foundation called to offer the city the money as Pugh looks to shepherd sweeping changes to the police department, aimed at restoring community trust and ensuring officers do not violate citizens’ Constitutional rights, reports Yvonne Wenger for the Sun.
OPEN MEETING VIOLATION: The Mardela Springs Town Commissioners were found to be in violation of Maryland’s Open Meetings Act for failing to give public notice of a March 8, 2016, meeting with state planning officials, Liz Holland reports in DelmarvaNow.
VATZ ON TRUMP, PUTIN: Towson University Professor Richard Vatz has a Sun op-ed on Trump and Putin.