WITH HUGE DEFICIT LOOMING, ANNAPOLIS LEADERS STILL UPBEAT: Marylanders worried that talk of looming billion-dollar state deficits could lead to tax hikes got some reassuring words Wednesday from the Democratic governor and Senate president. Len Lazarick/Maryland Reporter.
- The state is facing a budget hole of $761 million — with no clear path on how it will be filled. That hole doesn’t seem big given the state budget is about $63 billion, but something will have to give as lawmakers must pass a balanced spending plan by the time they adjourn April 8. Matt Bush/WYPR-FM.
- Gov. Wes Moore and his fellow Democrats made clear they would rather work on improving the juvenile justice system, fighting climate change, funding transportation and making housing more affordable – all possible, they say, if lawmakers are collaborating. Kiersten Hacker, Angelique Gingras and Tyrah Burris of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter.
- The surplus mirage created by federal pandemic aid has faded. State leaders now face a structural budget deficit in each of the next five years that balloons to more than $2 billion at the end of the current outlook. Bryan Sears, Danielle Brown, William Ford and Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
WHAT ELSE TO EXPECT THIS SESSION: A budget shortfall, a housing crisis, unpopular transportation cuts, a perplexingly sluggish economy and a rise in juvenile violence top a sprawling agenda. Lawmakers must figure out how to pay for billions in transportation projects and an education expansion that was set in motion years ago without the revenue to pay for it. Erin Cox and Katie Shepherd/The Washington Post.
- Accountability, Growth, Affordability and Safety: These are the four words you can expect to hear over and over again during the 90 day session. Brenda Wintrode and Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
- “We’ve been able to be a little bit more flexible over the last few years. That’s not the case this year,” Senate President Bill Ferguson told his chamber. “We have to start really prioritizing the things that we all know and care about — investing in education and health care and protecting our environment and public safety.” Sam Janesch and Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
HOW LAWMAKERS SAY THEY’LL REPRESENT YOU IN ANNAPOLIS: State legislators were asked what keeps them connected to their districts, what they’re in Annapolis fighting for, and what they’ll be proud of when the 90 days are up. Nine lawmakers from across the state responded. Brenda Wintrode and Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
MONTGOMERY LAWMAKERS TAKE LEADERSHIP POSTS: Montgomery County leaders were the center of attention at opening day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 446th legislative session. Among those from Montgomery taking leadership positions are Del. Marc Korman, who was announced as the chair of the House Transportation and Environment Committee, and Del. David Moon, named House Majority Leader. Ginny Bixby/MoCo 360.
OPENING DAY FILLED WITH OPTIMISM: Maryland lawmakers descended on the capital city of Annapolis Wednesday, ready to tackle the state’s most pressing issues for the next 90 days. The opening day of the General Assembly session is a day of ceremony and optimism, with lawmakers greeting each other after months spent back in their districts and at their day jobs. Lobbyists and advocates began to press lawmakers on behalf of their clients and bills. Pamela Wood and Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner.
COMMENTARY: PRESERVING BOOST FOR MARYLAND’s KIDS: Maryland lawmakers will return to Annapolis today, facing crucial decisions for parents and children. Among them is how they will continue to address calls from parents who want more education options and from those who want to escape the state’s failing schools. The solution to that problem? Preserving scholarship funding for BOOST, Maryland’s sole private school choice program. Madison Marino/Maryland Reporter.
APPEALS COURT: CHALLENGE TO STATE DIGITAL TAX SHOULD BE HEARD: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit directed a lower federal court Wednesday to consider the merits of a challenge to Maryland’s first-in-the-nation digital advertising tax on First Amendment grounds, while agreeing that three other challenges should be dismissed. Brian Witte/The Associated Press.
MARYLAND KIDS AMONG THOSE TO RECEIVE SUMMER FOOD BENEFITS: Children from low-income families in 35 states – including Maryland – four tribes and all U.S. territories will now receive permanent food assistance during the summer months when schools are closed, leaving children in 15 states excluded from the benefits. Ashley Murray/Maryland Matters.
NEW DNR APP LETS USERS UPLOAD FLOOD PHOTOS: If you live in an area affected by Tuesday’s rainstorm and winds, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources wants to know about it, and they have an app to help you show them. The DNR’s recently launched MyCoast Maryland app allows residents to upload photos of flood conditions in their neighborhoods during and after major storms. Aliza Worthington/Baltimore Fishbowl.
CECIL IN STRONG FISCAL POSITION: Cecil County officials say that Cecil County is in a strong financial position after the county’s FY23 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report showed a $26 million increase to the general fund balance. Matt Hubbard/The Cecil Whig.