By: Bryan P. Sears
Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to pay to re-open the State Police barracks in Annapolis by sticking it to a project favored by House Speaker Michael E. Busch is starting to feel like one of those Esurance commercials:
“That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works,” says the woman to her over-sharing friend.
Hogan announced Friday that he plans to re-open the barracks, closed in 2008 by then Gov. Martin J. O’Malley as a cost-cutting move, and hire 100 new troopers. This was a proposal Hogan had in his second supplemental budget, which Busch would not allow to be introduced in the House.
A statement released by the governor attempted to explain how this would be paid for:
“To offset the expenditure associated with the State Police action, Governor Hogan will line-item veto a single item in the Maryland Consolidated Capital Bond Loan of 2015, also known as the Capital Budget. This veto eliminates $2 million in state funding for renovations to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, also based in Annapolis. The remainder of the capital budget is unaffected and will pass into law without the Governor’s signature.”
The governor’s office has declined to elaborate on details explaining how the announcement Friday would pay for the Maryland State Police barracks in Annapolis.
“It’s part of Governor Hogan’s overall commitment to general savings and fiscal responsibility,” said Shareese Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman.
The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is in Busch’s district and is an organization the speaker has supported in the past.
But here’s the rub: While Hogan can eliminate funding for individual capital projects there are things he cannot do.
First, the governor cannot simply kill one project and then spend the money on another project that is not contained in the capital budget. Killing the project would just mean that the money for that project doesn’t get spent.
Second, the money could not be used for hiring or paying for new troopers or other operating expenses related to the barracks.
Finally, a veto of one item isn’t the last word on the matter. The legislature can override the veto with a three-fifths majority of both the House and Senate.
Until such details emerge from the governor, all that’s left is the tagline from the commercial: That’s not how any of this works.