Today, the House of Delegates passed the Fiscal Year 2018 operating budget on a vote of 135-6. To borrow the words of former Appropriations chair Pete Rawlings, this budget is fiscally prudent and socially responsible. It is fiscally prudent, resolving the structural deficit this year and leaving more than $137 million in reserve. It also maintains a balance of nearly $1 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. It is also socially responsible, fully funding K-12 education, restoring after-school funding for our poorest students, and investing in health care, especially for the poor and elderly.
This budget fully funds Maryland public schools with $6.4 billion for FY 18, a record amount. As I’ve mentioned previously, the budget contains nearly $8 million in additional funding for Baltimore City schools and reserves sufficient funds for the Governor to allocate additional funds if HB 684 passes. The Governor cut all funding from the Teacher Induction, Retention, and Advancement Pilot Program, which provides stipends to recruit and retain top-quality teachers in low-income schools. However, the committee restored $4 million for FY 18 and restored full funding for FY 19. BOOST funding is provided to cover only public school students currently in the program, so that we can get one full school year of data to determine if the program works.
Turning to higher education, this budget caps in-state college tuition at 2% for next year. The budget also increases funding to community colleges.
Under this budget, total health care funding increases, including over $11 billion in funding for Maryland’s 1.4 million Medicaid enrollees. The budget provides a 2% increase for most social service providers in Maryland. It also restores full funding to the Prince George’s County Regional Medical Center’s operating grant.
I’ll have more budget updates as the Senate takes up the bill and as we bring the Capital Budget to the floor soon.