Brown stresses budget limits during forum on family issues

Hogan cancels appearance at Towson because of illness

October 03, 2014|By Michael Dresser

The Baltimore Sun

Democrat Anthony G. Brown delivered a message about the constraints of budget pressures as he appeared Friday before a group of advocates for child and family programs.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan also was scheduled to appear at the forum at Towson University, but organizers said Hogan canceled Thursday night because he was sick.

Brown told advocates at the Maryland Family Network event that he is firmly committed to their priorities.

"There will always be a role for us in the public sector, working with the nonprofit community, to see that there's a backstop" for families in need, Brown said.

But the lieutenant governor stressed repeatedly that any expansion of family services would have to come from existing resources. He reminded the group that he and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, have pledged there will be no new tax increases if they are elected.

Despite the state's budget problems, including the recent write-down of revenue projections of $405 million over two years, he pledged to stick with his plan to offer public prekindergarten to all families that want it by the end of his first term. As before, he said he expects to finance that program from casino revenue.

Asked about potential areas to cut the budget, Brown said he will look at spending increases that are dictated by formulas written into law. "We'll bring our funding formulas in line with revenues," Brown said.

State spending driven by formulas includes aid to the counties and Baltimore for K-12 education, a politically sensitive budget issue.

Brown fielded questions on issues ranging from pre-K to immigration.

On immigration, Brown echoed the pledge by Gov. Martin O'Malley to provide for the needs of undocumented Central American children who have crossed the nation's southern border in recent months. Brown's pledge to help reunify the immigrant children with their families came with caveats.

"The federal government must reimburse the state for the cost of delivering these services," he said. Brown also stressed that when conditions are safe in their homeland, he expects most of the children to be sent back.

Brown's answer contrasts with the position of Hogan, who has said the immigrant children should not be placed with relatives in Maryland but be kept in housing close to the Mexican border.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

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