More money for Montgomery? -- Gazette.Net


A Maryland General Assembly committee has recommended that Maryland’s budget be allowed to grow by no more than 4 percent in fiscal 2015 — which could mean more money for Montgomery County.

Revenue from existing taxes is expected to grow for the coming year by about 4.6 percent, giving the state room to increase spending that is backed by state revenues, said Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., who sits on the legislature’s Spending Affordablity Committee.

Assuming higher revenue, the committee recommended the governor — who must propose a fiscal 2015 budget by January — be allowed to increase state spending, as well as borrowing for capital projects.

Among the revenue categories, just about every tax, except the state’s corporate income tax, is expected to take in more money, Madaleno said.

Madaleno (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington also sits on the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee, which will review the governor’s budget plan.

Committee member Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market, however, voted against the 4 percent increase, which he said is disproportionate to the increase in families’ incomes.

“Since it’s being paid by (the families), the goal is to try to keep some kind of restraint,” he said. “I don’t think they kept any kind of restraint on this.”

Brinkley said that, as a form of compromise, he proposed a roughly 2 percent budget increase to mirror the rate of inflation.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to spend the money on K-12 education, programs to keep tuition at state colleges and universities affordable, and health care. If he does, Madaleno said, Montgomery could be the beneficiary of some of the additional spending.

“Clearly, we are the largest school system,” he said. “Money that continues to fund the formulas will flow back to the county.”

Because Montgomery has the most college students in the state, money to keep tuition affordable is a huge benefit to local students and families, he said.

Among Montgomery County’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session, the county is seeking additional money for school construction.

Along with the increase in spending, the committee recommended higher borrowing.

O’Malley’s administration requested $75 million annually for the next five years of the capital budget. The committee agreed only to $75 million for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1, 2014.

With O’Malley entering his final year as governor, the committee wanted to leave future borrowing to the discretion of the next governor.

Only Democrats on the Spending Afforability Committee supported giving O’Malley $75 million in borrowing for fiscal 2015, Madaleno noted.

Staff Writer Lindsay A. Powers contributed to this story.