By a unanimous vote on Thursday morning, the Senate passed its version of the FY 2020 budget. Budget and Taxation Committee Chairwoman Nancy King (District 39 – Montgomery County) detailed the proposal of her committee before Senate colleagues explaining that after review of the Governor’s proposed budget the committee arrived at its budget position after great debate and careful deliberation.
In summing up the budget, Chairwoman King stated: “I am pleased with the hard work of the committee and what we have accomplished with fiscal integrity. Our decisions were not always easy, but this plan serves as an example of how we can responsibly fund our priorities while also successfully budgeting within our means.” She followed: “I am pleased to note that this budget is able to fund our priorities while still maintaining fiscal responsibility. Our constitutionally balanced budget commits $46.6B in resources yet grows less than 4%. The budget is structurally balanced and preserves $1.3B in cash to protect against future unknown needs.”
The budget also includes extensive funding for the educational incentives presented by the Kirwan Commission. To again quote Senator King: “One of the most important things we can do as a state is invest in the future of our children. It is a top priority of our committee and for this body.” She followed: “This (priority) is evident in the $445M that the committee has committed for school construction and the almost $7B provided in this budget for public education. During our deliberations, we worked hard to support the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. While the House had more ambitious funding plans, the Senate based its plan on the level ongoing revenues that make sure what we commit to this year can be funded next year.”
Highlights of the proposed budget include $225 million in additional funding for school systems in FY 2020, a payment increase of 3% to service providers caring for our most vulnerable citizens, and a 3% salary increase for the state workforce.
The House and Senate will now appoint conferees to work out differences in their respective budget proposals before sending a final version to Governor Hogan for his consideration. State legislators are constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year. If no budget agreement is made between Governor Hogan and General Assembly Leaders by Sine Die on April 8th, an extended session of the General Assembly would occur where only the budget would be considered.