Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 20, 2013

Senate passes $37 billion budget

Local counties would receive extra money for education

ANNAPOLIS — With finances improving in the aftermath of the recession, the Maryland Senate voted Wednesday for a nearly $37 billion budget that would boost education spending for some counties that have lost population and wealth and would provide a cost-of-living increase for state workers.

The spending plan, which was approved 42-5, differs from the one approved by the House of Delegates. However, the differences appear to be fewer and less contentious than in years past, leaving plenty of time before the scheduled adjournment of the Legislature on April 8.

Senators moved briskly to adopt some changes to the budget legislation submitted by Gov. Martin O’Malley in January.

In one of the biggest changes, the state would save about $100 million by limiting reinvestment in the state pension system. The amount would drop from about $300 million to $200 million to help build a cash cushion for federal budget cuts.

The Senate also reduces O’Malley’s proposal for the state’s rainy day fund. O’Malley wanted to put 6 percent of the state’s $16 billion general fund in the fund. The Senate cut that to 5.5 percent — still above the required 5 percent. The state would still have more than $1.1 billion in reserves to address future federal budget cuts.

The Senate also accepted an amendment from Sen. David Brinkley, R-Frederick, to allocate more money to eight counties where funding formulas for education are generating less support due to population and wealth adjustments.

Harford County will get $2.1 million, and Carroll County will receive $1.2 million from the change, Brinkley said. He said the others are Garrett County, $630,000; Cecil County, $543,000; Calvert County, $444,000; Kent County, $209,000; St. Mary’s County, $120,000 and Allegany County, $105,000.

“This is not an attempt to try to fix that permanently,” Brinkley said. “It is an attempt to give them a cushion that restores only half of that money.”

The budget includes $25 million to upgrade security systems at schools. It also includes a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for state employees. For the first time since 2009, there is funding for employee merit raises.

The Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, to set aside money to hire security guards for schools and to reopen the Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center in Chestertown. The facility was closed in 2009 due to budget cuts. The Senate also rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, to limit public money used for abortions.

The Senate debate on the budget for the next fiscal year was shorter this time than in recent years, when the state’s finances were under extra pressure due to the recession and its aftermath. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert, also expressed appreciation that the budget was adopted by a larger margin than usual.

The two houses will work out the differences through a team of House and Senate negotiators.

Last year, lawmakers failed to reconcile some significant differences on income tax increases, prompting the Legislature to adjourn without a budget deal to avert hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts. O’Malley ended up calling a special session last May to fix the fiasco.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • BOSTON PERSEVERES Solemn tributes mark one-year anniversary of marathon attack

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two offers for former Footer Dye Works site

    Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority officials announced Tuesday that two proposals have been received for the development of the Footer Dye Works building.

    April 15, 2014

  • Legislation strengthens prison guard investigations

    Legislative efforts to improve prison security were overshadowed this year by marijuana and minimum wage bills, but supporters say they will help prevent another high-profile scandal like the Black Guerrilla Family case at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

    April 15, 2014

  • Maryland simplifies rules for domestic violence victims seeking issuance of protective orders

    People seeking protective orders for domestic violence should have an easier time proving the case for issuing an order after Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill into law that changes the standard of proof used in court.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mineral County students return to class Aug. 14

    The first bell of Mineral County’s 2014-2015 school year will ring on Aug. 14. That’s if the West Virginia Department of Education approves a calendar voted on by school system employees and approved unanimously by the Board of Education on Tuesday night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Talk with Tennant Talk with Tennant

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • PSC investigating five energy suppliers over high bill claims

    Winter electric bills hit many consumers hard, but most complaints to the Maryland Public Service Commission involved so-called variable rate contracts. While the contracts can result in savings, they can also hit consumers hard during times of high electrical demand.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cottontail sale Cottontail sale

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Latest warrant sweep results in 33 arrests

    The Cumberland Police Department’s Safe Streets latest warrant initiative resulted in 33 arrests last week with 36 warrants served.

    April 15, 2014

  • DANIEL RADKO Radko candidate for Mineral County Board of Education

    I am running for the Mineral County Board of Education. My goal is to continue to help students reach their potential. I have lived and worked my adult life in Mineral County as a special education teacher. My wife, Susan, is a community services manager in Mineral and Hampshire counties for the Department of Health and Human Services. We have two children; son Sean teaches social studies at Keyser High School and daughter Dr. Lindsay Knuth is an audiologist in Charlotte, N.C. We have a grandson Aidan who attends Keyser Primary School.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo