Maryland budget increase highest in region
Maryland Business for Responsive Government notes that Maryland's budget increase for the current fiscal year, as reported by the National Governor's Association, is 11.4 percent.
That's far higher than the national average for states of 2.9 percent. And it's higher -- but in most cases not greatly higher -- than that of Maryland's neighbors. Virginia's general fund expenditures are rising 7.1 percent this fiscal year. Delaware's are up 9.3 percent. West Virginia's are up 8.2 percent. Pennsylvania's are down 4.1 percent. Here's MBRG's commentary:
According to the report, Maryland has the highest increase in general fund spending between fiscal years 2011 and 2012 as compared to surrounding states Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Maryland also has the nation's seventh highest increase in the nation during the same period.
Overall, state 2012 enacted budgets will rise 2.9%, while Maryland's will rise 11.4%.
"These numbers clearly show that Maryland has a spending problem. Maryland's political leadership continues to feed the beast with hard earned taxpayer dollars through tax and fee increases instead of looking for cost savings in the budget," said MBRG President Kimberly M. Burns.
"Without an honest, bipartisan assessment of state spending, the budget will only continue to grow out of control and politicians will demand more and more revenue on a continued march towards big government."
Alaska had the highest budget increase for the year -- 21.3 percent. North Dakota was second highest at 20.7 percent. Oil and gas revenue! Read the whole report here. The year-over-year spending changes are in Table 6.
UPDATE: Warren Deschenaux, the General Assembly's chief budget analyst, says the 11 percent increase isn't being spent on new programs. Mostly it's to replace disappearing federal stimulus money. "It's not as though we're improving anything by 11 percent," he said. "We're just maintaining what we had." He adds via email:
Actually the general fund budget increases by $91 million, or 0.6% (less than 1%) when adjusted for three things. First was the replacement of $1.2 billion in federal stimulus funds (largely for Medicaid and education aid) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Second, Maryland used $350 million in fiscal 2011 from the local income tax reserve to support education spending (those funds will be repaid over multiple years) which also artificially lowered the base. Finally, the State received $124 million in Education Jobs Funds which allowed the reduction of $124 million in fiscal 2012. Those funds will be replaced in the 2013 budget, but for purposes of consistent presentation are included in the adjusted 2012 budget.
UPDATE: O'Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory weighs in.
Maryland growth rate in FY 2012 is distorted by our use of federal ARRA State Fiscal Stabilization Funds for education and public safety in FY 10 ($377 M) and FY 11 ($501 M). Most states spent all of their money in FY 2010 and backfilled with state dollars in FY 2011. Maryland chose instead to prudently spread the dollars over two years (which allowed the Governor to fully fund the growth in education aid in both years). Maryland was thus backfilling for the lost federal dollars in FY 2012 while most other states backfilled in FY 2011.
To avoid the distortions created by the timing of when federal stimulus dollars were spent, we compared the FY 2010 general fund spending of each of our neighbors to the FY 2012 general fund spending. Maryland has increased general fund spending more slowly over the last two years than most of our neighbors.
Maryland’s spending growth across all funds in FY 2012 is only 4.4% (much less than the 11% general fund growth).
The idea is that Maryland would look better in this comparison if it hadn't nursed the ARRA stimulus money over more than one year instead of blowing it all in one wad like some states did. However Maryland would also look better if it had cut more spending to make up for the vanishing ARRA money.