State Roundup, September 1, 2017

HOGAN TO SEEK $68M IN CUTS: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will push for about $68 million in budget cuts next week, a move to rein in spending approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser of the Sun report.Although there is no sign Maryland will have less money than anticipated this year, Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley said Thursday that the administration is “trying to get ahead of the curve” on a revenue shortfall projected for next year.

  • The proposed cuts range from about 0.1% to 3.6% for each affected agency, including reducing health department spending by $22 million, eliminating 30 positions at public higher education institutions to save $8 million; trimming more than $8 million from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; and reducing by $6 million state grants for low-wealth jurisdictions that struggle to raise revenue through local taxes.

  • Bryan Sears of the Daily Record report that while the General Assembly’s top budget analyst called the list of reductions unsurprising and prudent, some Democratic lawmakers say the moves are the result of Hogan’s political rhetoric and a failure to lead on budgetary issues. State law allows for the governor, through the three-member Board of Public Works he chairs, to reduce the budget by as much as 25 percent while the legislature is out of session. Three governors — two Democrats and one Republican  preceding Hogan — have also used the process.

STABILIZING ACA: The Sun’s editorial board opines that even though every one says that Maryland’s increasing rates for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s individual market are unsustainable, is there much Maryland can do about it? In short, yes. The state’s leaders may not be able to stop President Donald Trump from sowing continued instability in the insurance markets or from undermining the law’s key provisions. But there are steps other states have taken that could at the least ameliorate the problem.

STATEWIDE OPIOID STRATEGY: The state government is in the midst of rolling out a multifaceted, statewide strategy to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, but one of the biggest difficulties can be getting communities to buy in, according to the man leading the effort. Tapped by Gov. Larry Hogan to serve as opioid emergency response coordinator last spring, Clay Stamp is a longtime emergency services professional. But Stamp said he has been struck by “how very different this crisis is,” Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes.