Shady deals at MTA, persisting problems with social services, issues with developmental disabilities, UMES, auditors find

In four reports released in the past week, state auditors found: potential shady contract deals at the Maryland Transit Administration that they referred for prosecution, persisting problems at local social services agencies, failure to follow state procurement regulations and check residency requirements at a state university, and problems in verifying that Marylanders with developmental disabilities are getting the help they need.

Analysis: Hogan wins by not losing, and actually winning on big issues

Gov. Larry Hogan won this legislative session by not losing too much and not giving Democrats ammunition against his reelection campaign. Hogan also won with success on issues where he cooperated more than usual with Democrats, and by choosing to fight them, and lose, only on issues where he held the high ground.

More House Republicans vote against budget

A few more Republican delegates than usual voted against the House version of Gov. Hogan’s $44.5 billion budget Thursday. The final vote was 126-11. The GOP members repeatedly tried to take $1 million away from Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh and his lawsuits against the Trump administration, and they also attempted to provide more income tax relief than Democrats were willing to offer from the windfall the state will reap from the federal tax cuts.

Senate unanimously passes $44.5 billion state budget

The Maryland Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the state’s $44.5 billion budget for fiscal 2019, just 2.2% higher than this year’s spending plan. The senators heaped bipartisan praise on budget committee chairman Ed Kasemeyer, who is retiring from the Senate this year and got three standing ovations from his colleagues over the past three days as he presented the budget.

Some Maryland taxpayers and corporations will pay higher state taxes due to federal tax changes

Perhaps 9% of Marylanders would pay $200 million more in state taxes next year under plans a Senate committee approved Tuesday to give most taxpayers relief from the consequences of recent federal tax cuts. But some corporations will likely pay as much as $75-100 million more in state taxes since there are no plans at the State House to try to grant them similar relief after the Trump cuts gave them big breaks on federal taxes.

Think tank gives Maryland mixed report card on budget practices

In public debates about the budgetary soundness of state government finances, it can be hard to separate real insights from political posturing and cloudy media reporting. The legendary former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker founded the Volcker Alliance in 2013 with the aim of enhancing government responsiveness by improving how governments work. In its report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: What is the Reality? the Volcker Alliance paints a mixed picture for Maryland, and represents an opportunity for the state to make real improvements in areas considered as weaknesses.

Rascovar: Maryland’s gets mixed economic messages from feds

President Trump will be releasing his first budget this week for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Early indicators point to a fiscal blueprint that slashes domestic programs especially for the poor and the environment but is exceedingly generous to the military. How do you rate that package, good or bad?