Legislature’s fiscal chief presses for spending reform

Maryland’s legislative leaders are getting pressure to fix their approach to spending not just from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan but from their own top budget expert, Warren Deschenaux. In his analysis of the $43.5 billion state budget Hogan sent to the legislature last week, Deschenaux told legislators Monday, “This is another kick-the-can-down-the-road budget,” putting off hard choices about future spending.

Hogan proposes ethics reform, more openness for legislature

Seizing on bribery and conspiracy charges facing former Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Larry Hogan unleashed a handful of bills Thursday to rein in corruption and put an end to influence peddling in Annapolis. Hogan also proposed legislation to take some of the politics out of liquor board appointments, force the Maryland Senate and House to video stream their sessions, and set up an independent commission to draw lines for legislative and congressional districts.

Hogan gives caregivers for disabled smaller raise than promised; most earn fast-food wages

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 Thomas “Mac” Middleton in a press briefing Wednesday. Hogan’s budget cuts the mandatory 3.5% wage hike to the Developmental Disabilities Administration to 2%. The legislature needs to make up the 1.5% reduction before the end of the session, said Middleton, a long-time advocate for DDA caregivers.

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State police audit finds potential savings if more civilians were hired

Maryland taxpayers could save $11 million annually if 127 of the current 1,426 uniformed positions in the Maryland State Police were replaced with civilian employees, according to a report released by the Office of Legislative Audits. The audit found the positions were not involved in daily law enforcement activities. The savings would be found in lower salaries and fringe benefits attributed to civilian employees, which would include a $7.8 million reduction in annual pension costs.

Columbia at 50 Part 7: HEALTH CARE: Planning for a healthy community — an innovative HMO, a hospital fight and the quest for wellness

Health care was another key element the original Columbia planners focused on in their 1964 work sessions. Unlike the schools, land use, water, sewer and political structure, for which the Rouse Co. planners eventually would turn to government institutions that already existed in Howard County, they would need to look beyond its borders for help. The opening of the Columbia Hospital and Clinics in 1973, would be one of the most controversial aspects of Columbia’s early years. Its creation was fraught with community tension, political discord and hostility among competing groups, creating ill-will outside of Columbia that would last for decades. Links to all parts of the series published so far are at the bottom of the article.

Poll finds support for increased school aid and higher taxes to support it

New polling results funded by the state teachers union finds broad bipartisan support for increased funding for public education, even if it means “closing corporate loopholes and raising income taxes on the state’s highest earners.” The poll taken late last month by Gonzales Research was part of the same survey that found 74% approval ratings for the job Gov. Larry Hogan is doing. But the results of the questions on education would seem to put the same voters at odds with Hogan’s strong opposition to new taxes and strong support of increased funding for private school scholarships.

Republicans still not enthused about mandating sick leave, even Hogan’s compromise

As the very first piece of legislation, Democrat lawmakers have reintroduced the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, the paid sick leave bill, which passed the House in a party line vote last year but failed to move in the Senate. This year’s House bill, HB01, will compete with a measure recently announced by Gov. Larry Hogan. But some Republican lawmakers are not enthusiastic about Hogan’s compromise, even though it is less burdensome to businesses than the House bill.

Hogan, not Busch, should be grateful to federal prosecutors

House Speaker Michael Busch on Tuesday thanked the U.S. attorney and the FBI “for their due diligence in completing this investigation” into Prince George’s County corruption that may put as many as three former and current delegates in prison. Actually the investigation is not be completed at all. But the person who should be really grateful to the feds for their probe and the awkward timing of their announcement is Gov. Larry Hogan.