Maryland FY16 Budget Discussion Continues in Annapolis

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Now that the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate have passed two versions of the fiscal year 2016 budget, a joint committee will begin working on a final version. 

"So I would consider it half-time right now with the Maryland budget," said Delegate Neil Parrott, R-Washington County

On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed their version of the budget which restored $138 million to education and additional funding for health care providers and state employee salaries.

But Washington County Delegate Neil Parrott still has a few concerns. He was one of 10 delegates who rejected the House version of the bill two weeks ago. Parrott said the state will be spending more money than they're taking in.

"We're right up against debt limit and that comes from the property tax and if we have a capital budget that spends too much money we're definitely looking at a property tax increase and that's great, big concern for me and our constituents," said Delegate Parrott.

Gov. Larry Hogan's initial proposed budget aimed to reduce the structural deficit to zero. It's a concept Delegate Parrott liked because he says it would have allowed the General Assembly to move forward without incurring debt year after year.

"And yet in the House, it was $588 million, over half a billion dollars by the year 2020 with a structural deficit that we were going to incur with the budget that we were passing," said Parrott. "The Senate made it better, it's a hundred million dollars better. So it's about $438 million structural deficit in the year 2020."

In 2011, lawmakers pledged to fully fund state pensions by 2039. In the Senate's budget, the state will continue making a $75 million supplemental payment until the systems are 85 percent funded but Delegate Parrott believes they could be doing more.

"Right now, we're only 70 percent funded, that's just really unacceptable, we haven't lived up, the state hasn't lived up to their promise in 2011 to fully fund these pensions," said Parrott.

Once Maryland lawmakers have a final version of the fiscal year 2016 budget, both the House and Senate will vote on the same budget. Parrott said it will be an up and down vote with no amendments, then it will head to the governor's office.


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