ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday laid out a plan to invest the state’s $2.5 billion budget surplus in tax relief, underserved residents and the state’s rainy day fund.
Hogan said the extra money from the previous fiscal year budget was the largest surplus in state history.
He said it marked the first time since fiscal 1999 that state officials project the state will take in more money than it spent.
“The entire vision of my administration is to leave our state in a stronger, fiscal position than when we found it,” he said during a press conference at the State House in Annapolis. “That is exactly what we have done.”
The additional money for Maryland came in mostly thanks to federal dollars in coronavirus pandemic aid such as stimulus checks, housing assistance and tax relief for small businesses.
On Thursday, the governor laid out the surplus framework that includes:
• Investing 7.5%, or $1.67 billion in the Rainy Day Fund in preparation for emergency situations and future crises.
• Tax cuts for retirees because some relocate to neighboring states where income taxes are cheaper.
• Tax relief for eligible working families, based on legislation passed by the General Assembly in February.
• Provide assistance for underserved residents still affected by the pandemic.
• Enhancements for state employees. The state’s Department of Budget and Management will assess how to utilize the money.
Hogan said some of the specifics such as what type of benefits for state workers would need to be negotiated through collective bargaining, with discussions scheduled to start in the fall.
“With this budget framework, my message is pretty simple: as long as I am governor, I will continue to fight for fiscal discipline, continue working hard every single day to make it easier for Maryland families, small businesses and retirees to stay in our state, and I will continue fighting for Marylanders to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets,” he said.
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) released a statement after Friday’s press
conference and said the governor “raised more questions than answers” on the surplus proposal.
“As always, the devil is in the details. I look forward to seeing those details when they are
released and working with [the] governor,” he said. “It is imperative that we make strategic investments
in Maryland’s future while also getting support to vulnerable Marylanders across the state.”