By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
Just two days into his historic term, Gov. Wes Moore unveiled a proposed budget that spells out his plans for stemming child poverty, ensuring health care, enhancing the state’s schools and shoring up Maryland’s transportation infrastructure.
Moore’s $63.1 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year ending in 2024 envisions hiking the minimum wage, expanding the child tax credit and enhancing Medicare spending and would be supported by a general fund surplus that will be reduced by $820 million, according to the governor’s budget officials.
The proposal marks the first step in fulfilling campaign promises, according to Nina Kasniunas, Goucher College political science professor.
Moore, she said, is “acting on promises he made during the campaign, “One way to read what a governor’s priorities are is by looking at the budget,” said Kasniunas. “Gov. Moore is prioritizing families, education, transportation, and re-building the government’s workforce.”
Moore wants to earmark $500 million for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the state’s savings account dedicated to education reform. Another $500 million would help fund new transportation projects in a move that Kasniunas characterized as a “sharp turn from the former governor.”
Blueprint for Maryland is a landmark legislation passed in 2021 that provides sweeping changes for Maryland’s early childhood education efforts and its K-12 public schools.
The budget proposal calls for $393 million for Maryland’s 15 local community colleges; $421 million in state support for Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities, amounting to a 19 percent increase, and a 12 percent increase in funding for the University System of Maryland.
Moore also wants $8.8 billion for the state’s K-12 public schools.
The first Moore budget proposal will seek $1.3 billion for employee “salary and benefit enhancements” and $39.4 million in salary adjustments for registered nurses, attorneys, emergency response technicians, and certain educator positions.
In addition to seeking an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Moore wants a $171 million extension of the earned income tax credit and an expansion of the child tax credit to broaden an additional 40,000 families.
Additionally, the governor is proposing $2.5 billion capital budget addressing priorities identified by county governments and Baltimore City representatives; $11.3 million and nine new positions to support the West North Avenue Development Authority that was created by the General Assembly to support the development and approval of a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plan in the West North Avenue Development Area of Baltimore City; and $122 million for local police departments with $17.5 million committed to Baltimore City, expansion of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Public Defender.
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