Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday released funding for public safety and health programs, but held onto $245 million in spending authorized by lawmakers, including state funding for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
"The legislature continues to spend recklessly, and has jeopardized funding for a number of worthwhile programs it cut from our budget to pay for its own wish list,” Hogan said in a statement. “Despite the fiscal challenges that the legislature’s out-of-control spending have caused us, we cannot allow critical public safety and health needs to go unmet. Our administration will work within the existing budget to fund these critical public safety and health programs.”
State budget officials will look at ways to fund critical programs through the savings existing budget, rather than new, "fenced-off" spending by lawmakers. Funding for items including local law enforcement grants, the Baltimore City and Prince George's County state's attorneys' offices, and non-opioid pain management remains uncertain.
Hogan said he would re-submit his school construction plan in next year's legislative session. Lawmakers cut construction funding from his proposed budget and didn't act on his plan to clear the school construction backlog.
The money not spent would go toward balancing the budget and accounting for mandatory spending, officials said.
"I am extremely disappointed that the Governor is not choosing to fund many worthy projects, including some that were originally in his proposed budget, and some that were added based off testimony from many Marylanders to the Legislature," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said in a statementr. "Based on my conversation with the Governor, I was under the impression that he intended to review the list closely and that deserving projects would proceed with funding. The bipartisan budget passed by the Legislature was balanced, and did not alter the structural deficit any differently than in the Governor's originally proposed budget."
The BSO's musicians were part of successful lobbying to get $3.2 million in state funding over the next two years. Uncertainty over that money's release helped lead to the ongoing lockout of the orchestra's musicians.