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Hogan presents final budget proposal amid huge surplus

January 19, 2022 GMT

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday presented his final budget proposal, touting tax cuts, record education and school construction spending and aid for the vulnerable amid an enormous surplus.

“The entire mission of our administration has been to leave our state in a stronger fiscal position than when we found it,” Hogan said in a statement announcing the $58.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year. “Today, after seven years of hard work and holding the line, the State of Maryland is projecting a long-term structurally balanced budget for the first time in nearly a quarter century.”

Maryland has an unprecedented $4.6 billion budget surplus this year because of federal pandemic relief.

Hogan’s proposal would gradually eliminate the taxation of all income for retirees above 65 who receive Social Security, removing 70,000 low-income seniors from state tax rolls in tax year 2022.

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“This is not just good for our economy, it’s also good for our quality of life,” Hogan said. “Our seniors deserve to have the peace of mind to know that they can afford to stay right here in Maryland, where they have spent their lives working and raising a family, and where they continue to contribute so much.”

The budget would also permanently expand the enhanced State Refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, benefiting nearly 300,000 families.

At $6.8 billion, the capital budget is the state’s largest ever and includes $3.3 billion for transportation projects, including roads and mass transit.

Hogan’s proposal includes $1 billion in school construction funding, allocates $144.1 million to expand pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and $601 million for higher education projects. It also includes $996 million for mental health and substance use disorder programs.

Hogan previously announced several initiatives, including $500 million for law enforcement over the next three years, a $75 million allocation to local health departments, enhanced SNAP benefits for children and seniors and increased utility and electric bill assistance.

In a statement, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones said the governor’s proposed budget funds priorities such as higher education and infrastructure upgrades, but she raised a concern for a 10-year plan to improve K-12 schools known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

“However, I’m disappointed that this budget continues to undermine the Blueprint’s commitment to providing a world class K-12 education for children in every zip code and I am skeptical it does enough to address historic state staffing shortages that put Marylanders at risk,” she said.