In a joint statement, Maryland’s Congressional Democrats called on the state to use its $2.5 billion budget surplus to “support those who need it most,” with many families facing eviction and struggling to pay childcare.
“Given this reality, we hope the State will work to support those who need it most, including by expediting release of federal funds allocated to that purpose,” U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, and David Trone said.
Comptroller Peter Franchot, whose office announced the surplus in late September, made a similar pitch for the excess money in the state’s General Fund, saying there’s a “tale of two Marylands.”
In one, hundreds of thousands see their unemployment expiring, face homelessness, are returning to work can’t find affordable childcare, or struggle running their small business, he said.
In the other, representing roughly two-thirds of the population, residents with stable jobs that let them work remotely have been able to invest.
“The state’s surplus is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in programs that lift all Marylanders and help stabilize housing and other critical expenses for our lower- and middle-income families,” Franchot said.
Federal stimulus money drove larger-than-expected revenue growth in the state, Franchot’s office said.
Franchot is a Democratic candidate for governor.
In response to news of the surplus, Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement pledging to “continue to practice fiscal discipline while prioritizing relief that advances our recovery.”
In their statement Wednesday, the Congressional Democrats said they’ve secured $11.9 billion in American Rescue Plans money for Maryland, including $5.37 billion paid directly to the state government.
“Over the last year, Federal Team Maryland has fought tooth and nail to provide federal funds to support our state. We are glad to have helped secure Maryland’s strong fiscal footing and a $2.5 billion budget surplus,” the lawmakers said. “But the work to protect Marylanders from the impact of COVID-19 is not done – many are still grappling with the devastating impacts of the pandemic.”