State Roundup: Orioles and state make tentative deal to extend lease; analyst predicts state will face budget gap of $761 million; panel urges lawmakers to boost tolls, vehicle registration fees

State Roundup: Orioles and state make tentative deal to extend lease; analyst predicts state will face budget gap of $761 million; panel urges lawmakers to boost tolls, vehicle registration fees

The Orioles will keep playing at the state-owned stadium in Baltimore for decades under a lease to be approved by two state boards on Monday. 2021 Governor's Office photo

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ORIOLES AND STATE TENTATIVELY AGREE TO EXTEND LEASE: State officials and the Orioles have tentatively agreed to extend the ballclub’s lease at Camden Yards while also moving forward on a 30-year deal to keep the team at its Baltimore home. Hayes Gardner/The Baltimore Sun

  • “I know for many this process has been long, and the team that worked on securing this deal has done so diligently with the best interests of the taxpayer in mind,” Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement. The Maryland Stadium Authority board and the Board of Public Works will hold special meetings on Monday to approve the deal. Pamela Wood and
    Andy Kostka/Baltimore Banner

MD.  FACING $761 MILLION BUDGET GAP, LEGISLATIVE ANALYST PREDICTS: Maryland’s state government faces a shortfall of $761 million for the next budget year, necessitating tough decisions ahead for Gov. Wes Moore and state lawmakers. The budget situation — while not dire, given the total budget is more than $60 billion — will test Democrats’ ability to enact new programs and services, given their limited financial resources. Closing the budget gap will require a combination of long-term budget adjustments, such as cuts or revenue increases, and short-term transfers, a legislative analyst advised lawmakers on Thursday. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner

PANEL TO URGE LAWMAKERS TO BOOST TOLLS AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEES: A blue-ribbon transportation panel will ask lawmakers to consider bolstering the state’s flagging Transportation Trust Fund by raising tolls and imposing new or increased vehicle registration fees. The recommendations come as county leaders and lawmakers come to grips with recent announcements of draconian cuts to the state’s transportation budget. None of the recommendations will close the projected gap of billions of dollars in cuts. Bryan P. Sears/Maryland Matters.

STATE OKS BGE RATE HIKES FOR NEXT 3 YEARS: Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. rates will rise over the next three years after state regulators on Thursday approved a cost increase of just under $408 million for the utility’s customers as part of the company’s multiyear rate plan. Maryland’s Public Service Commission’s unanimous decision settles a months-long disagreement between city leaders, advocates and utility stakeholders. Lillian Reed and Penelope Blackwell/The Baltimore Banner

STAFFING SHORTAGES PERSIST AT MD. HEALTH DEPARTMENT: As the Maryland Department of Health attempts to fix years’ worth of inadequate financial documentation and recordkeeping found by state auditors, the agency continues to struggle with staffing levels that might prolong improvement efforts, officials said. Auditors last month found that years of “unsatisfactory” recordkeeping from August 2018 through March 2022 may have resulted in some $7 million of Medicaid funds being paid out for people who did not qualify or were deceased. Danielle J. Brown/Maryland Matters

STATE OFFICIALS REFUTE ENVIRONMENTAL ARGUMENTS OF CREMATORIUM OPPONENTS: Residents battling a proposed human crematorium in North Baltimore due to health and environmental concerns – thwarted in their efforts by the city zoning board and, later, a circuit court judge – confronted state environmental officials Wednesday night and were quickly disappointed. Almost the first words spoken by Maryland Department of Environment officials, briefing a crowd of more than 100 in a church, were unambiguously negative. Peder Schaefer/Baltimore Brew.

CARROLL COMMUNITY COLLEGE’S BOARD PICKS NEW PRESIDENT: Carroll Community College announced Thursday that its third president, James Ball, would retire on July 5, after serving as president for 10 years. The college’s board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Provost Rose Mince as the next president, effective July 6. Mince will assume the title of associate president on Jan. 2. Molly Fellin Spence/Carroll County Times.

HOWARD CO. NAMES ACTING SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: The Howard County Public School System promoted the district’s chief academic officer, William Barnes, on Thursday to be the acting superintendent of the school system. The current superintendent, Michael J. Martirano, suddenly announced his retirement in November. His last day is Jan. 10 – 18 months into a four-year contract that would have ended in June 2026. Kristen Griffith/The Baltimore Banner

OPINION: MD.’S PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARDS TAKES THE LEAD IN CLIMATE ACTION: The Maryland Association of Boards of Education made history in October as one of the first statewide associations of public school boards to declare climate action an essential component of adequate and equitable school facilities. As a parent leader for climate action in Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland, I could not be prouder of MABE’s commitment. Joseph Jakuta/Maryland Matters.

COLUMNIST DeFILIPPO DIES: Frank DeFilippo, a redoubtable chronicler of Maryland politics whose career dated back to the 1960s, died on Saturday. He was 93. DeFilippo used elegant language and a rapier wit to skewer the state’s political classes. He burst on the scene as a reporter for the Baltimore News-American in the early 1960s after a stint on the newspaper’s copy desk. Later that decade, he became a State House reporter and wrote a groundbreaking series on behind-the-scenes powerbrokers in Baltimore and how they manipulated civic affairs. Josh Kurtz and Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters

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