School construction funding fight is part of ongoing drive to strip power from the governor

Maryland’s governor has long been considered one of the most powerful in the country, mainly because of his control over spending and appointments. The Maryland General Assembly has for decades sought to chip away at the governor’s power, mainly through spending mandates and other legal restraints. Last week’s action in the Senate and House to pass a new mandate on school construction and take the governor out of the decisions on what schools should be funded is just another chapter in that ongoing drive to shift the balance of power.

More House Republicans vote against budget

A few more Republican delegates than usual voted against the House version of Gov. Hogan’s $44.5 billion budget Thursday. The final vote was 126-11. The GOP members repeatedly tried to take $1 million away from Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh and his lawsuits against the Trump administration, and they also attempted to provide more income tax relief than Democrats were willing to offer from the windfall the state will reap from the federal tax cuts.

Senate unanimously passes $44.5 billion state budget

The Maryland Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the state’s $44.5 billion budget for fiscal 2019, just 2.2% higher than this year’s spending plan. The senators heaped bipartisan praise on budget committee chairman Ed Kasemeyer, who is retiring from the Senate this year and got three standing ovations from his colleagues over the past three days as he presented the budget.

UPDATE Goners: 10 senators, 29 delegates leave their seats this year

This is the last legislative session for 10 senators and 29 delegates as they leave their seats to others, whether by retiring or running for other offices. (We missed two delegates in the first posting, and fixed a couple of incorrect party designations.) Primary and general elections may unseat other lawmakers, but here is the list of the lawmakers that will produce at least a 20% turnover in both chambers.

Judges to get $20,000 pay raise over next 4 years, retired judges pensions go up too

The Maryland Senate Monday night gave final approval to a $20,000 pay raise for 312 Maryland judges over the next four years, $15,000 less than was recommended by the Judicial Compensation Commission in January. The pay raise in House Joint Resolution 3 as passed by the Senate and House also will boost the pensions for 417 retired judges and their surviving beneficiaries by as much as $13,340 a year since those payments are based on the salaries of current judges.

Shore Power project aims to save tax dollars, environment

The Shore Power Project, launched several years ago at Washington College, has helped local governments on Maryland’s Eastern Shore find ways to reduce energy costs while also shrinking their carbon footprint. For students and staff at the private liberal arts college in Chestertown, the project offered a chance to help Shore communities address climate change by dealing with the shifting energy landscape.

Some Maryland taxpayers and corporations will pay higher state taxes due to federal tax changes

Perhaps 9% of Marylanders would pay $200 million more in state taxes next year under plans a Senate committee approved Tuesday to give most taxpayers relief from the consequences of recent federal tax cuts. But some corporations will likely pay as much as $75-100 million more in state taxes since there are no plans at the State House to try to grant them similar relief after the Trump cuts gave them big breaks on federal taxes.

Crowded field for governor woos Howard County Dems

The crowded and competitive race for the Democratic nomination to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was on full display Tuesday night in Columbia as five candidates for governor and four for lieutenant governor wooed and wowed an overflow crowd of about 160. “Any one of them would be better than the person we have now” as governor, said Rushern Baker, the Prince George’s County executive who has a slight edge in favorability over the others in recent polling.