If you thought tensions were easing between Gov. Larry Hogan and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, you may have been premature.
Hogan Friday announced he will move forward with re-opening the Maryland State Police Barracks in Annapolis and hire 100 new troopers at the expense of a $2 million earmark for a an organization that has benefited from Busch’s long-time patronage.
“We are going to move forward with our plan, despite the Speaker of the House’s refusal to introduce a supplemental budget that would have put more State Troopers on Maryland’s highways and funded the re-opening of the Annapolis barrack,” Hogan said in a statement. “Our state troopers were an essential element in the restoration of order in Baltimore last month and their exemplary work in the city is evidence of just how much we need these new positions. It is unconscionable to deprive our state capital of a State Police barrack and the troopers necessary to ensure public safety or respond to an emergency.”
It’s not the first time Hogan has had harsh words for Busch over budget issues. A month ago, Hogan referred to Busch as petulant for refusing to introduce the Republican governor’s supplemental budgets.
Now, it seems, it’s Hogan’s turn.
To pay for the re-opening of the barracks, Hogan said he would “line item veto” $2 million set aside in the capital budget for renovations to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts — a facility that is inside the district Busch represents.
“I am a huge proponent of the arts and the First Lady is a former member of the Anne Arundel County Arts Council. But in the current environment, a State Police Barrack in our state capital and adequate funding for public safety in Annapolis must be the priority,” the governor said in his statement.
He made no mention of Busch’s affiliation and support of the center but it’s hard to imagine that the move wasn’t directed at the top democrat in the House of Delegates.
Earlier this year, the Annapolis Capital reported that the center has received nearly $6 million between 1999 and 2014. During that time Busch served in leadership including the last 11 years of that period as the leader of the House. The paper reported that center was among the top 20 recipients of state money in the county and only wastewater treatment and schools got more.
In 2011, another report by the Capital found that Busch used his influence to bring state money to projects in his home county. Included on the list was redirecting $600,000 to the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts that was originally meant for burying electrical lines.
Busch has also helped the center raise money, including a 2013 event in which ATT donated $25,000 to the center.
Earlier this week, the sometimes contentious relationship between Hogan and Busch took a positive turn when the speaker of the House praised the governor for his response in Baltimore during the civil unrest that followed the death and funeral of Freddie Gray.