Thursday, May 28, 2020

Senate Sends Budget To Governor To Fund State Thru November With 50%+ Cuts, Heavy Lifting To Fill $5.2 Billion Deficit After Nov. Election

On May 28, the Senate voted 44 to 6 to pass a General Fund budget bill-- House Bill 2387 (Saylor-R-York)-- to fund state government through November that includes cuts of between 50 and 85 percent to line items.  
The bill now goes to the Governor for his action.
The vote in the House was 103 to 99, Republicans supporting.
The strategy is to make the cuts so the House and Senate have to come back after the November 3 election-- a sine die session where defeated lawmakers still retain their seats-- to finish the budget for the remainder of the year and fill the now estimated $5.2 billion budget deficit for the current and new fiscal year.
Both the Senate and House have not held a sine die session since about 2007 because of a series of “reforms” made after the 2005 debacle that resulted in an initial pay raise for legislators and automatic pay raises year after year since then.
Budget Cuts
Some examples of General Fund cuts from FY 2019-20 include--
-- Dept. of Agriculture -- 21.3 percent
-- Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources -- 45.9 percent  (41.6 % is a 5 month budget)
     -- Heritage and Other Parks - $1.025 million to $1.365 million increase
-- Dept. of Environmental Protection - 51 percent (41.6 % is a 5 month budget)
     -- Conservation District Fund - $2.5 million cut to $1.044
     -- Chesapeake Bay Pollution Abatement - 52.7 percent
     -- Delaware River Basin Commission - $217,000 cut to $90,000
     -- Susquehanna River Basin Commission - $205,000 cut to $86,000
  -- Interstate Commission on the Potomac River: $23,000 cut to $10,000 
     -- Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission: $68,000 cut to $28,000
     -- Chesapeake Bay Commission - $300,000 cut to $125,000
     -- West Nile Virus - 58.3 percent
     -- Black Fly Control - 58.3 percent
Both primary and higher education will be funded at last year’s levels for all of FY 2020-21.  Property tax relief funded by casino revenues are cut by $300 million.
There is no word yet on what may be in the accompanying Fiscal Code bill, which usually contains the damaging environmental riders seen in the past.
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[Posted: May 28, 2020]

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