The Maryland General Assembly’s budget impasse could have a devastating impact for the state’s jurisdictions if a special session is not called.

“Without delay, the Governor, House Speaker, and Senate President should agree to a Special Session devoted exclusively to completing their work on the budget and revenues so Maryland can maintain crucial investments that create jobs and build a strong economy,” said Neil Bergsman, director of the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute, in a statement.

The House and the Senate failed to come to an agreement on how to fund the budget. It’s a failed agreement that would cost the state $512.2 million funding.

Much of that funding was slated to be passed down to the state’s local jurisdictions. Those jurisdictions will be forced to make serious decisions about what to do without funding they expected.

In Prince George’s, the county may have to make over $65 million in cuts. That includes nearly $13 million in direct aid to schools.

Baltimore City would lose close to $60 million in funding; with close to $11.6 million in cuts to its schools.

Montgomery County would lose $41.4 million and would have to make an $8.4 million cut in direct funding to schools.

What these jurisdictions would also see is the elimination of funding due to the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI). This tool takes into account the increased cost of educating kids in larger jurisdictions. The elimination of this measure would result in $22.4 million in lost funds in Baltimore City, $32.8 million in lost funding in Montgomery County and 38.3 million lost funds in Prince George’s.

In total, the state’s counties and Baltimore City would lose over $262 million.
Meanwhile, GOP members of the Maryland General Assembly saw the impasse as something positive. In a statement on its Facebook page, the Maryland Republican Party said the budget would only create more debt for the state.

“Marylanders are turning on Governor O’Malley’s liberal, big government agenda!” the statement said. “With super majorities in both chambers, Democrats can’t decide how much of a left turn they want to take on the road to record debt and the highest taxes in America.”

Maryland Republicans are also uninterested in a special session.

“Here’s why it’s wrong,” Del. Anthony O’Donnell, R-Dist. 29C, told the Washington Post. “The citizens of Maryland demand that we come here and pass a budget and get our work done in 90 days. It’s been going on for years and years and years and yet we messed around.”

The state has until July 1 to come to an agreement on a new budget or the “doomsday” budget becomes law.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO