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Hogan calls out Democrats on budget mandates

Rachel Baye

  Gov. Larry Hogan accused the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly of being reckless with state tax dollars at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. But the call for budget reform quickly turned into political mud-slinging.

State law requires the governor to increase spending each year for things ranging from community colleges to community health providers. Under a bill sponsored by Hogan and considered by the House Appropriations committee Tuesday, the governor would have flexibility to keep state spending on those items flat from year to year.  Hogan said this is crucial to the state's fiscal well-being. But he said legislators aren’t taking him seriously.  "A whopping 85 new mandated increases in spending have been proposed, totaling $3.7 billion over the next four years," he said. "These actions would require billions of dollars in tax increases to pay for them.  "House Speaker Michael Busch, a Democrat, said the mandates give core programs stability.

For example, one proposal Busch is supporting would require funding for demolition of vacant houses in Baltimore for five years. Though Hogan has promised the funds, he has only allocated the money through the end of June 2017. "You can't have a demolition program that is dependent from year to year on what the governor thinks about it," Busch said.In response to accusations that Democrats are fiscally irresponsible, Busch’s office pointed to tax cuts Hogan and other Republicans have proposed this year. If they all passed, the cuts would cost the state more than $13 billion over five years, according to the Speaker’s office.