Where do you want to fly?
ANNAPOLIS — More than $796 million in operating funds would come back to Washington County in Gov. Larry Hogan’s $46.6 billion operating budget.
Thick budget documents were released Friday morning from the Department of Budget and Management. Lawmakers were getting a first glance as the books were delivered to their offices.
But while Hogan conducted a breakfast meeting with fiscal committee leaders Friday morning, most legislators hadn’t taken a hard look at the budget yet.
Sen. George Edwards, R-Washington/Allegany/Garrett, attended the meeting with Hogan and got “a quick review by the secretary of budget and management,” he said.
“It looks pretty good at this point,” he said, “but I need to look at the details and see how it impacts our part of the state.”
One impact for Washington County is the substantial increase in highway user revenues to local governments, which has been a priority for local officials.
Washington County is allotted more than $1.9 million in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal. Municipalities in Washington County will share more than $2.4 million.
Highway user revenues come from gasoline taxes, titling fees and other assessments associated with transportation in the state.
During Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration, the portion usually returned to local governments dropped by about 90 percent as the administration used the money to balance other portions of the budget. Local governments have been fighting to get the money back ever since.
The FY 2020 figures represent an increase of more than $1 million over the current budget for the county government, and nearly $2 million for local municipalities.
The largest allocation in the operating budget is for education. The budget earmarks nearly $182 million for K-12 education in Washington County, an increase of almost $6 million.
The University System of Maryland at Hagerstown is allotted nearly $3 million, an increase of nearly $200,000. Hagerstown Community College would get $8.5 million, an increase of about $336,000.
Other local budget allocations include:
• Disparity grant of more than $2 million, an 8.2 percent increase. The disparity grant program provides aid to low-wealth jurisdictions for county government purposes.
• Maryland Emergency Management Agency fire, rescue and ambulance fund, $337,711; no change from the current funding level
• State aid for police protection, $1.5 million; down slightly from current funding
• Employee bonus program for correctional institutions, $450,000
• Tax credits for urban enterprise zones, $241,332; a decrease of about 18.6 percent
Members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Appropriations Committee will be briefed on budget details during a joint meeting Monday afternoon.
The House Appropriations Committee then will review the budget first, making recommendations and amendments. Del. Mike McKay, R-Washington/Allegany, and Del. Paul Corderman, R-Washington, serve on that committee.
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will then accept or reject those amendments and make its own before the budget goes to the full legislature for approval.
Lawmakers can cut the budget and move money around, but can’t add to it unless they identify a funding source for the addition.
Unlike most bills that go to the governor upon passage, the budget bill becomes law as soon as both chambers of the General Assembly approve it — usually late in the 90-day legislative session.