2021 Legislative Session Review - Part 2
This is Part 2 of a four-part series on the 2021 Legislative Session.
To read Part 1 - click here.
Dreary Budget Forecast Turns into a Spigot of Cash from Federal Taxpayers

Fiscal 2022 State Budget
This was the most unique budget year I have ever experienced. Almost overnight,anticipated budget shortfalls over the past year disappeared.

Maryland ended up with a stronger than expected economy because last spring the Federal CARES Act provided grants to businesses to deter layoffs. In addition to essential workers, many Marylanders are government employees who continued to receive a paycheck and pay taxes during the shutdown.
The American Rescue Plan Act recently passed in Washington D.C. is sending the State of Maryland an additional $3.9 billion, and counties and local municipalities will also be receiving additional funds. A bipartisan agreement in the MD General Assembly decided on how to directly allocate the $3.9 billion. 

For more information on the American Rescue Act allocations, including Carroll County and local municipalities, click here.
The only action the General Assembly is required to take during the legislative session is to pass a balanced budget. It was fairly easy to pass the budget this year with all of the additional money coming in, but I was pleased that we did save a large portion to shore up our state’s savings accounts, including $1.4 billion in the Rainy-Day Fund and a nearly $700 million fund balance in the General Fund. The adopted budget will also eliminate the structural deficit in the coming years. 
House Republican Caucus - 42-member STRONG!
Highlights of the Maryland Budget - FY2022:
Reinforcing Maryland’s Pension System:
There will be extra contributions to the state Pension System exceeding the actuarially required contribution by $75 million in fiscal 2021 and $100 million in fiscal 2022, helping to accelerate progress toward past deficiencies. This is important as the pension system has been chronically underfunded, and this will get us back on track.
Continuing Commitment to Education: 
K-12 public schools funding will exceed $7.5 billion. Direct aid to local school systems will increase an estimated $229.4 million, or 3.5%. $512 million, along with $80 million of federal stimulus funds has been added specifically for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning improvements at public schools over the next two years.
Community colleges are receiving a 9% increase over fiscal 2021.

Independent colleges, including, McDaniel College, were fully funded.
Investing in Maryland’s Future:
Expanding Access to Broadband will be accelerated by $300 million of federal stimulus funding allocated to building out the infrastructure and subsidizing service and devices for low-income households. Carroll County should be ready to roll out the long-awaited plan for connectivity to every household and business in the county. The need for this has been more visible than ever as our students were forced to learn remotely and many had to work from home during the pandemic.

Expanding Workforce Training and Apprenticeships will enable the unemployed and underemployed to obtain jobs in the evolving economy, and will be enhanced with an additional $75 million investment.
Improving Health Care Services:
Increased Medicaid Funding will allow the State to provide coverage to over 1.5 million of our residents. Expenditures increase by about $673 million to support unprecedented enrollment growth of over 151,000 since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as provider rate increases.
Enhanced Services for Vulnerable Populations, a long overdue 4.0% rate increase, effective January 2021 for most health care providers, including those serving the developmentally disabled and people with behavioral health needs. Rate increases of up to 4.0% are authorized for group homes serving youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system.
For more details, the Conference Committee Summary Report on HB 588 and HB 589 (maryland.gov) is a synopsis of the major budget actions taken this year.
Bringing projects home to CARROLL COUNTY:
 $9,463,000 – Construction of Carroll Career & Technology Center

$1,500,000 – Grant to Carroll County Government for Local Parks & Playground Improvements

 $1,200,000 – Way Station Behavioral Health Center – HVAC System Replacement

$1,000,000 – Carroll County Public Safety Training Center
$756,000 – Carroll Hospital Center – Surgical Peri-Operative & Post-Anesthesia Care Project
$200,000 – Hampstead War Memorial Park Revitalization
$145,000 – Morgan Run Trout Stream Accessibility Improvements
$50,825 – New Windsor Town Park Renovations

Legislative Bond Initiatives:  
  •     $175,000 – Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department
  •    $120,000 – Carroll County Youth Services Bureau
  •      $ 25,000 – Freedom Elementary School Playground

Governor Hogan and the Republican Caucus continue to advocate for tax cuts for our seniors to make sure that Maryland is a competitive state for retirees. We are consistently ranked in the bottom 10 of the least desirable states to retire. Unfortunately, none of the bills we supported made it through, including an amendment that would have taken the Earned Income Tax Credit offered to illegals and give it to our seniors. That was voted down along party lines.
This is the second part of a four-part series on the
2021 Legislative Session. 
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