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Transportation, Education Could Be Big Sticking Points For Hogan's Budget

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In Maryland, the pomp and circumstance of opening day at the General Assembly is over. Time will now tell how yesterday's peaceful calls for bipartisanship will fare in the looming battle over the state budget.

Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan addressed both the House and Senate on day one. He said virtually the same thing to both: The only solution to fixing the state's problems is "if we sit down together, reach across the aisle, and come up with real common-sense bipartisan solutions. And I pledge to you that's exactly the way I intend to lead as governor."

But with an estimated $750 million budget deficit to close and Hogan's pledge not to raise taxes bipartisanship could go out the window as Democrats do not want to see cuts to education and transportation.

In particular, the Purple Line in D.C.'s suburbs is in jeopardy, but Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker says it shouldn't be.

"The Purple Line is more than just getting people back [and forth] from Prince George's County and Montgomery County. It really is about economic development and expanding the commercial tax base for the state ... and the Washington region, which is the fastest growing region in the state," says Baker, a Democrat.

And there could be cuts to public education too. A funding formula that benefits large school districts like Montgomery County may be targeted.

Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr says eliminating that formula would likely mean layoffs in county schools.

"Ninety-one percent of our budget is people. So if you're cutting money out of the budget ... we can trim around the edges ... but it gets into people," Starr says. "And if we're serious about economic development then we've got to be serious about education, and you can't get better without investing."

Lawmakers won't have to wait long to see what Hogan wants to cut. His budget plan comes out next Jan. 23, just two days after he is inaugurated.


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