MOORE’s $63.1B BUDGET TRIMS SPENDING, PROTECTS BLUEPRINT: Gov. Wes Moore unveiled a budget proposal on Wednesday that would balance the books and protect the state’s ambitious reform plan for Maryland public schools, without raising taxes in the fiscal year that begins in July. Kiersten Hacker of Capital News Service/MarylandReporter.com.
- He said he would still increase spending on child care programs, efforts to help juveniles in the justice system and construction on the FBI’s new headquarters in Prince George’s County. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
- His budget, the first one created exclusively by his administration, significantly trims spending on transportation, private universities and community colleges, among many other smaller cuts, while plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into his other priorities. Erin Cox/The Washington Post.
- In general, lawmakers offered positive comments on the $63.1 billion plan that includes $25.8 billion in General Fund spending. The comments were based on a budget overview presented to them by Moore over breakfast Wednesday morning. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
- Moore’s budget team relied on four types of maneuvers to bring the budget into balance. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
- Here are some key points to know about what the Democratic governor has in mind for how to spend state tax dollars: No tax increase; A new word for budget cuts; Rainy day not here yet. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
BILL WOULD TAX AMMO TO AID TRAUMA VICTIMS: Democratic state lawmakers want gun manufacturers to help foot the bill for trauma injuries, including gunshot wounds, following an example set by California last year. Katie Shepherd/The Washington Post.
MOORE PITCHES ‘HOUSING PACKAGE’ FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH: Several bills that Gov. Wes Moore is backing as part of a “housing package” have not come to the floor of either chamber, nor has their text been revealed as pre-filed legislation. Nevertheless, both the governor and the state’s secretary of housing and community development are pitching the package as starting fuel for an economy trying to grow. “You cannot continue to have economic growth if we continue to have a housing crisis,” Moore said earlier this year. Dwight Weingarten/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.
MOORE’s CAMPAIGN COFFERS: LOTS IN, LOTS OUT: Gov. Wes Moore (D), who used national connections and his growing political popularity to set fundraising records during his 2022 campaign, continues to raise money at a furious pace. But the cost of getting a high-profile, history-making governor across the country, where he is in great demand as a campaign surrogate and event headliner for Biden and other Democrats, is substantial: Moore’s campaign spent almost as much in the past year as it raised — more than $2.1 million. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
***Coming off the success of his first play, “Baltimore You have No Idea,” Sun columnist Dan Rodricks has produced “Baltimore Docket,” which dramatizes seven trials he has covered over the years. Three of six performances in February are already sold out. Click for tickets here.***
ONE YEAR IN, MOORE SEES MILLER AS AGENT OF CULTURAL CHANGE: As Gov. Wes Moore and Lt Gov. Aruna Miller start their second legislative session on the second floor of the State House, they are not looking back in celebration to bills passed last session, but looking forward to a larger work changing a culture. “The biggest win that she has had is she’s helped to change the culture of Annapolis,” said Moore, referring to Miller in a Jan. 17 phone interview, one day before the one-year mark of the pair’s inauguration. Dwight Weingarten/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.
IT’s MELTING AT LAWYERS MALL! Puffs of steam rose off of Lawyers Mall Tuesday morning as state employees, lobbyists and legislators walked across the historic plaza in the shadow of the State House dome. The gathering space, which hosts numerous First Amendment demonstrations and protests, was reopened after an extensive renovation in 2021. It now features a state-of-the-art snow melt system under its bricks that’s put to use when the weather turns bad. Brooks Dubose/The Capital Gazette.
PUBLIC PARK NAMED AFTER ELIJAH CUMMINGS: The new public park at the Baltimore Peninsula, the South Baltimore waterfront redevelopment project, has been renamed Elijah’s Park in honor of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings on his birthday. Cummings represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District from 1996 until he died in 2019. Tony Roberts/The Baltimore Sun.
SCOTT OUTRAISES DIXON IN MAYOR’s RACE: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott outraised his chief rival Sheila Dixon by about $150,000 last year, campaign finance reports filed Wednesday showed, expanding the incumbent mayor’s war chest as the campaign begins to heat up. However, Dixon’s campaign will have the benefit of an additional $200,000 contributed to a super PAC dedicated to supporting her candidacy. Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.
MUCH WORK REMAINS FOR B’MORE POLICE TO EXIT CONSENT DECREE: As Baltimore takes a first step toward exiting its policing consent decree, some observers are stressing that plenty of work remains in reforming the police department and engaging with residents about how they are policed. Darcy Costello/The Baltimore Sun.
BA CO SCHOOLS PROBE ‘OFFENSIVE’ RECORDING: Baltimore County Public Schools said it launched an internal investigation Wednesday after an audio recording circulated online that claimed to capture the principal of Pikesville High School making offensive comments. BCPS Superintendent Myriam Rogers said that in the recording, a man is having a conversation in which he makes “highly offensive and inappropriate statements about African American students, Pikesville High School staff, and Pikesville’s Jewish community.” Lia Russell and Lillian Price/The Baltimore Sun.
- In the recording, the person speaking refers to “ungrateful Black kids who can’t test their way out of a paper bag.” The voice in the recording also says, “And if I have to get one more complaint from one more Jew in this community, I’m going to join the other side.” Kristen Griffith/The Baltimore Banner.
HARFORD COUNCIL PASSES NEW HOTEL TAX FORMULA: The Harford County Council passed a new formula Tuesday night for distributing tax revenue from hotel rooms. Council President Patrick Vincenti said he expects the debate over how local residents will benefit from the tourism industry will continue. Dillon Mullan/The Aegis.
CARROLL TRANSIT ON TRACK TO MEET PASSENGER GOALS: The Carroll Transit System is on track to match or exceed the number of passenger trips it provided last fiscal year to Carroll County residents. As the primary provider of mass transportation in the county, the system has provided more than 55,000 passenger trips using a fleet of 40 vehicles since July, the start of the county’s fiscal year. In fiscal 2023, the system’s TrailBlazer routes and Demand Response provided about 100,000 passenger trips. Sherry Greenfield/The Carroll County Times.
ANNUAL PRIDE FESTIVAL DRAWS CONCERN FROM ONE EASTON COUNCILMAN: A request to approve a public assembly permit for the Delmarva Pride Center’s annual Pride festival, though approved in a 3-2 vote, elicited strong concerns from some Easton Town Council members. One council member’s uneasiness with the contents of the festival stirred up a multi-pronged discussion on Town Council precedents and the council’s responsibilities and scope in reviewing events meant to benefit the community good. Natalie Jones/The Easton Star Democrat.
WHO IS DAVID SMITH, THE SUN’s NEW OWNER? The new owner of The Baltimore Sun is a local power broker who’s donated millions of dollars across Baltimore, Maryland and national politics, put a referendum on city ballots, and criticized the “mainstream media” from his perch as the executive chairman of the nationwide network of Sinclair television stations. He told the newspaper’s journalists on Monday “Welcome to the new world.” Emily Sullivan and Justin Fenton/The Baltimore Banner.