I can’t wait to find out how this is going to end. Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he would withhold $68 million earmarked for Maryland public schools, putting it toward the state pension fund instead.
The Baltimore Sun, among others, pointed out that, well, he can’t just do that; he can’t spend that money (apportioned according to the Geographic Cost of Education Index) on something else without a new appropriation. As is, the law dictates that unspent GCEI money go into a special account to be spent on GCEI in the future.
Hogan’s team disagrees. They’ve cited a provision in the budget for fiscal year 2016 which dictates that half of any budget surplus beyond $10 million can go into the pension fund, with a cap of $50 million.
But that doesn’t add up. As the Huffington Post reports, the state projects only a $28 million budget surplus. (28 minus 10 is 18; half of 18 is 9, leaving $9 million for pensions.) Hogan is counting on the unspent GCEI money as well as unspent money intended for Prince George’s County Hospital to be counted as surplus. In that case, he would contribute the maximum $50 million to the pension fund this year, and set aside another $25 million next year.
But the chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee, State Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, told HuffPo that’s not the way it will go down. Those unspent monies will definitely not be counted as surplus, he insisted.