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(The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Hogan gives raise to state employees

Gov. Larry Hogan Wednesday said he will spend $68 million earmarked for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for state employees.

The announcement comes at the same time the governor declared May 6 State Employee Recognition Day.

The agreement to spend the money means state employees will receive a cost-of-living increase that had been promised under Democratic Gov. Martin J. O’Malley. Legislators and state employee unions argued Hogan’s threat to rescind that promise amounted to a cut in pay.

“State employees are the backbone of our government and it is an honor to serve the people of Maryland alongside them,” Hogan said. “What I witnessed last week in Baltimore once again underscored their selfless dedication and commitment to our citizens. Despite the fiscal challenges we continue to face, I am proud to continue to provide our state employees with the pay increase they need and deserve.”

Hogan had been on the fence about spending the money after the legislature fenced off the funds in a contentious budget battle.

The governor has still not announced whether he will spend additional money set aside by the legislature for a non-mandatory education funding formula. Legislators and the state’s largest teacher’s union have been pressuring the governor to agree to spend the money.

Whether Hogan would agree to the cost-of-living increases and approve the state education funds became the most contentious issues of the governor’s first legislative session.

Democratic leaders in the General Assembly said they believed Hogan essentially had accepted those proposals with the passage of the budget. The governor, however, said he had consistently warned lawmakers that the spending would be fiscally irresponsible.