Thanks to belt-tightening done as the coronavirus pandemic hit Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday was able to announce a proposed budget he said would provide more than $1 billion in tax relief and aid to struggling Marylanders and small businesses while maintaining essential services.

Hogan previewed the 2022 fiscal year budget at a news conference in Annapolis. He would not say what the total amount budgeted is but talked about key line items.

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The budget includes the proposals in the RELIEF Act, which Hogan said he wants lawmakers to take up and pass as soon as possible. He also called for eliminating state income taxes on many retirees.

"Even though we're one of the best places to live in America and we have so many great things going for us, we're losing some of our best citizens," Hogan said.

Hogan did not directly reference a bill to implement the costly Kirwan Commission education reforms but cautioned against passing anything that would require tax hikes. After last year's abbreviated session, Hogan vetoed that bill and a number of others that would have increased spending. Lawmakers in Annapolis are considering an override of his veto.

Hogan said that despite a drop in public school enrollment as districts moved to virtual learning, he is proposing more spending on public education. The $7.5 billion includes $151 million for tutoring and $833 million for school construction.

In higher education, the governor's proposal calls for a 57% increase in funding per student at community colleges and limiting tuition hikes at state colleges and universities to 2%. Read more at WBAL