As Maryland lawmakers near budget vote, trepidation about future looms

As the House of Delegates nears an up-or-down vote on Gov. Larry Hogan‘s $43.5 billion spending plan Thursday, House budget chief Maggie McIntosh sees a lot of good news from her perspective — a revenue shortfall erased, critical programs preserved and a healthy reserve fund.

Del. McIntosh, the Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said legislators crafted a plan that seeks to avoid past wrangling with the Republican governor while giving him the fiscal wiggle room to contribute state money to help the Baltimore school system make up a $130 million shortfall.

“It’s a good budget,” McIntosh said. “From a fiscal perspective, it’s very sound.”

Looming, however, are Republican President Donald J. Trump‘s expected cutbacks to the federal workforce. McIntosh said she will be sweating the results of the state’s September revenue estimate, when state fiscal leaders get a glimpse of the budget challenges they’ll face in 2018.

But this year’s spending plan has so far made its way through the Democratic-led General Assembly on schedule and with a low level of disagreement between the House and the Senate. The budget package cuts $270 million of the governor’s proposed spending and restores $81 million for the legislature’s priorities.

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