The floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by Scott Beale of and Laughing Squid with Flickr Creative Commons License

Rascovar on Hogan’s budget dilemma

Tumbling oil prices, a bear market for stock and 401(k) investors and a sharp economic pullback in China and other developing countries could wreak havoc in Maryland as Gov. Larry Hogan prepares to release his budget for the coming fiscal year. Even before lawmakers get a chance to analyze what’s in Hogan’s conservative spending plan, the state’s revenue assumptions for the next 18 months could be out of date.

Economist advises senators: Spend on infrastructure, education; lower income tax, broaden sales tax

In what has turned into an annual performance to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, the chief economist with Moody’s Analytics said that while Maryland’s economy is performing close to the national average, it needed to do more to grow its performance. Repeating recommendation from a September Moody’s Analytics Report, economist Mark Zandi said Maryland should focus on reducing key taxes and costs, investing in infrastructure, and reducing the perception of business unfriendliness. The economist said Maryland needs to build or maintain businesses that rely on demand from the private sector for growth.

Chart from Hogan press conference on fiscal 2017 budget

Hogan draws line for legislators on next year’s budget

In an unusual preview of next year's budget not due for weeks, Gov. Larry Hogan drew the line for legislators already planning to spend more money than he wants. Hogan said he will spend every dollar the law forces him to do through legislative mandates and formulas, but he won't spend any more even if the legislature tries to force him by "fencing off" extra spending, much as they did on $68 million in school aid last year.

The Louis L. Goldstein State Treasury Building

Democrats want state to spend more, Hogan promises to spend less

Democratic legislators voted Wednesday to spend as much as they could in next year's state budget, while Gov. Larry Hogan's budget secretary told them that wherever they set the spending ceiling, the governor would ask for less. In another straight party line vote, the Spending Affordability Committee also set the limit on new state debt $60 million higher (6%) than the $995 million Hogan had sought.

Chart high income low income

Md. revenues grow slightly, but middle class incomes stagnate

The good news on Maryland revenues is that there is no more bad news and some slight growth, leading to calls of "restrained optimism" and "caution" by top state officials. But the sobering news underlining the on-target revenue projections for this year and next is that they are only growing at 3 to 4% because middle class incomes have been largely flat. The slower growth with a static economy is the new normal for a state that had been used to 5% overall growth.

House Speaker Michael Busch addresses Maryland county officials on a panel moderated by new MACo President John Barr, a Washington County commissioner, Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, Sen. J.B. Jennings, and Joe Getty, the governor's chief legislative officer.

Hogan’s honeymoon with legislature is over, Senate GOP leader says, but House speaker disagrees

"The honeymoon is over" at the State House, Senate Republican Leader J.B. Jennings told an audience of county officials Friday. "This session is not going to be the lovefest we had last year." House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat, disagreed with Jennings assessment that there won't be another love fest. "I don't know why not," Busch said. "Hopefully we'll be able to work together with the governor to come up with the best solutions for the people of Maryland."

AFSCME President Patrick Moran

State employees protest lack of new contract or response to proposals

Gov. Larry Hogan will host the annual holiday party for state employees Thursday afternoon at the governor's mansion. But outside Government House, members of the state's largest public employee union, AFSCME, plan on protesting what they say is the administration's failure to negotiate a new contract or respond to any union proposals, despite a Dec. 31 deadline in state law.

AFSCME demonstration in Baltimore Thursday.

State employees rally for pay hike

A labor union for Maryland public employees held rallies across the state Thursday to place pressure on Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration for a pay raise and more money to fill vacant jobs under their current contract negotiations.