State budget surplus estimated at more than $250 million

October 29, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

With the Maryland economy thriving, the state government is enjoying a steadily growing budget surplus that is estimated at more than a quarter-billion dollars.

While some lawmakers are urging that the money be banked, the governor and key legislators want to spend the money on a combination of new programs and building projects.

"This is an opportunity to single out two or three one-shot initiatives," said House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., an Allegany County Democrat.

The new estimates, by the legislature's fiscal analysts, peg the surplus for the budget year that ends in June at $254 million in a general fund totaling $8 billion.

While the surplus is a relatively small portion of the budget, it gives legislators a healthy chunk of money to spend on favored projects.

For example, Gov. Parris N. Glendening is expected to propose higher spending on education and a program of health insurance for children of working-class families.

"We need to take advantage of the fact that the economy is doing so well and invest in programs that will have long-term benefits," said Ray Feldmann, a spokesman for the governor.

Feldmann added that Glendening will likely propose saving some of the surplus to help the state pay for the 10 percent cut in income taxes that is being phased in over the next five years.

House leaders are pushing a plan to spend some $45 million more annually on education, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Taylor also would like to commit $25 million in state funds to build a high-tech long-distance instruction facility at the University of Maryland's Shady Grove campus in Montgomery County.

Taylor said the healthy surplus will, in some ways, make his life as presiding officer harder when the legislature convenes in January.

"It creates all kinds of pressures for spending that wouldn't be there if the surplus weren't there," he said.

Pub Date: 10/29/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.