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Gov. Larry Hogan (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Hogan won’t back down on school funding demand

Gov. Larry Hogan said he will not back down on his decision to withhold $68 million in additional, optional school funding.

Hogan made the comments on WBAL radio just one day after Democratic leaders in the House and Senate called on the first-term Republican to release the money.

“It’s the silly season,” Hogan said of the Democrats’ demands and said it wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before.

House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., surrounded by Democratic leadership in both houses and education advocates, declared that they had erased the state’s structural deficit and said current budget projections have Maryland finishing with $520 million surplus.

Democrats said that, given the state’s fiscal outlook, Hogan could spend money it earmarked in the current budget that would go to 16 jurisdictions in the state as part of the Geographic Cost of Education Index.

Hogan has rejected that call but said he “has agreed to fully fund GCEI in the next budget.”

In reality, Hogan’s decision to withhold those earmarked funds has triggered a bill passed earlier this year, which the governor allowed to become law without his signature, that will make the once optional funding formula a mandated budget item for all future budgets.

Hogan said Tuesday that he wants legislators to help him sure up an underfunded state pension system.

“We can’t allow the pension system to collapse,” Hogan said.