Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced his 2015 budget last week, promising not to raise taxes while trying to close the structural deficit that has plagued the state for almost a decade.
“This fiscally responsible budget builds on the tremendous progress we’ve made as a state, strengthening our economy by supporting 48,000 jobs, protecting our No. 1-in-the-nation schools with record investments in education and upgrading our transportation infrastructure with modern investments,” O’Malley said in a statement.
The 2015 budget also would provide for $4.3 million in new funding to expand pre-kindergarten programs in the state, an initiative the administration has identified as a priority in the 2014 legislative session.
The budget includes $20.3 million earmarked for the state’s correctional facilities, the focus of negative attention after scandal rocked the Baltimore City Detention Center in 2013. Some of that money will go toward 100 additional correctional officers.
Another budget beneficiary is cybersecurity and other tech businesses. If adopted, the Cyber Tax Credit would increase by 33 percent to $4 million. A 12.5 percent increase to the Research and Development Tax Credit brings it to $9 million, and the Biotech Tax Credit will increase by 20 percent to $12 million.
Health continues to be the largest state expenditure, accounting for 28 percent of the state’s spending. Elementary and secondary education receive the second-most assistance, taking up 20 percent of the state’s total expenditures.
At 9 percent and 10 percent respectively, health and transportation expenditures increased the most dramatically between the 2014 and 2015 budgets. The building of the Red and Purple transit lines will demand a $4.4 billion increase in transportation funding over the course of the next six years.
“It’s a continuing socially progressive budget,” said Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, adding that he supports the proposal.
In addition to supporting issues the council backs, such as raising the minimum wage and cracking down on domestic violence and elder abuse, the governor has proposed a budget that also promotes programs important to the Jewish community, such as $1 million in funds for the expansion and renovation of UMD’s Hillel building and $2.5 headed to Sinai Hospital.
“He’s supported our interest in the University of Maryland Hillel, and he’s supporting Sinai Hospital, the first line of defense for certain emergencies,” said Abramson.