“The honeymoon is over” at the State House, Senate Republican Leader J.B. Jennings told an audience of county officials Friday. “This session is not going to be the lovefest we had last year.” House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat, disagreed with Jennings assessment that there won’t be another love fest. “I don’t know why not,” Busch said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to work together with the governor to come up with the best solutions for the people of Maryland.”
Newly appointed Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn told the Senate Budget and Taxation committee Wednesday he hopes to have his recommendation for the Red and Purple light rail lines to the governor in 90 days.
New Democratic legislators from Howard County said they “got the message” on spending and taxes from the election of Republican Larry Hogan Jr. as governor.
“I think we got the message,” Del.-elect Clarence Lam told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday. “We understand folks want to move in a different direction.”
The uphill climb Gov.-elect Larry Hogan faces to fulfill his campaign promises and reduce state spending and taxes was starkly illustrated in a legislative hearing on spending Wednesday.
Facing dozens of lawmakers, including some who lost election bids, the Maryland General Assembly’s top fiscal expert produced a graph showing the next six years of projected state spending and revenues. In every year, including this one, the line for spending goes up and up, and the line for revenues rises too, but never matches expenses.
The number of state employees making over $100,000 jumped dramatically to 6,847 in 2013 due to an across-the-board 2% cost-of-living raise, MarylandReporter.com’s fourth annual analysis of state salaries found. Numerically, this represented a 1,184 increase from 2012, a 20% rise in the number of state and university employees making six figures.
“If it weren’t for the more moderate leadership in the Senate, things would be a lot worse than what they are” in the Maryland General Assembly, Sen. Ed Kasemeyer told Howard County business leaders Wednesday.
With minimal debate, the Maryland Senate rejected a half dozen Republican attempts to further trim Gov. Martin O’Malley’s $39 billion budget Wednesday, and gave preliminary approval to the spending plan that will be sent to the House this week.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee ultimately cut $492 million from the current budget and O’Malley’s proposal for next year, partly to make up for lowered revenue estimates in both years.
The Senate Budget Committee voted Friday to take $500 million over the next five years from extra payments into the state pension system to balance the budget this year and for the next four.
Much or all of an annual $300 million extra payment into Maryland’s pension system is on the chopping block as Senate budgeters seek to balance Gov. Martin O’Malley’s $39 billion budget at a voting session Friday.
In unusual joint testimony, Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, chair and vice-chair of the state pension board, pleaded with Senate budgeters not to permanently cut $100 million in state payments to the retirement system. They said the cut proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley had high long-term repercussions and undermined the state’s credibility with bond rating agencies by reneging on promises made in 2011 pension reforms.