Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Maryland governor proposes nearly $149 million in mid-year budget cuts – NBC4 Washington

By meerna Jul11,2024
Maryland governor proposes nearly 9 million in mid-year budget cuts – NBC4 Washington

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s administration on Wednesday proposed a nearly $149 million midyear boost to direct more money to help fund child care and Medicaid as state officials continue to grapple with budget challenges.

Moore will present the cuts next week to the state Board of Public Works, which has the authority to cut up to 25% of the state’s operating budget. The powerful three-member spending panel is made up of the governor, treasurer and comptroller, all of whom are Democrats.

“This morning, my administration unveiled a plan for targeted and strategic spending cuts and to grow our economy while protecting the programs and projects Marylanders care about most,” Moore wrote Wednesday in The Baltimore Sun.

His administration decided to propose budget changes early in the fiscal year, which began July 1, to help plan for the future. Both child care and health care are administration priorities.

“We have taken a disciplined, data-driven approach that prioritizes investments in areas that connect Marylanders to employment and build new pathways to jobs, wages, and prosperity for all,” the governor wrote.

The need to adjust spending was driven by higher-than-anticipated participation in a state program designed to help pay for child care and higher-than-expected retention of Medicaid participants as Maryland, like other states, underwent eligibility reviews in the wake of the pandemic.

For example, when Moore took office in January 2023, about 24,000 children were enrolled in the state’s child care scholarship program. By the end of 2023, that number had grown to about 33,000 children, the administration said. When the governor was preparing the state’s budget for the current fiscal year, it was projected to enroll between 38,000 and 40,000 children, but by June that number had grown to more than 40,000.

“We’ve already increased the number of children enrolled in the state’s Child Care Scholarship Program by 70 percent since inauguration day,” Moore wrote. “That means an additional 16,000 children and their families are now receiving the support they need.”

The governor also noted that the proposed budget actions “will not result in cuts to spending on top priorities, from transportation to K-12 education.”

Currently, nearly 1.7 million people across Maryland are enrolled in Medicaid, which is slightly below the state’s peak enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All states are reviewing their Medicaid rolls after a three-year ban on coverage termination put in place during the pandemic expires.

The budget cuts are primarily characterized by cuts to state agencies and grants, with an emphasis on new initiatives that will not have as large an impact on services currently provided to residents.

Moore presented a balanced $63 billion budget in January for the current fiscal year. It included no tax increases, but the General Assembly changed legislation to raise new revenue, including a variety of transportation-related user fees to help fund transportation projects and a tobacco tax increase to help fund education.

Debate on addressing long-term budget shortfalls is expected to resume during the General Assembly meeting in January.

“Every state faces fiscal challenges without federal COVID funding,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat. “Today’s budget announcement is part of an ongoing process in which we will consider every option to continue to balance our budget and protect our priorities.”

Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said he appreciated the administration’s thoughtful approach to “solving difficult fiscal problems while protecting core values.”

“As new data emerges in the coming months, the Maryland Senate will continue to make the best budget decisions to invest in our residents and grow our economy,” Ferguson said.

By meerna

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