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Restored funding proposed for Baltimore and PG, plus support for medical examiner

Two jurisdictions shorted in a proposed state budget could see funding restored under a proposal submitted by Gov. Larry Hogan. 

A $480 million supplemental budget proposal introduced Tuesday now includes additional funding for Baltimore city and Prince George’s County. The plan also calls for more than $1 million to help shore up staffing at the beleaguered Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. 

“The onus was on the governor to put the money where it would count — into the districts that need it most,” said Sen. Cory McCray, D-Baltimore and a member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. “By taking measures to correct prior missteps, Governor Hogan has chosen to contribute to the triumph of Baltimore city and its pupils.” 

Hogan omitted $140 million for the state’s education effort adjustment when he introduced his $58 billion budget proposal. Much of it was earmarked for two jurisdictions with the largest minority populations. 

Baltimore was expected to receive about $99 million this year. Prince George’s County was to receive nearly $27 million.  

Hogan’s proposal, which requires legislative approval, restores that funding. 

“Reallocating the $99 million to Baltimore city is a profoundly restorative step in the right direction,” McCray said. 

The money, part of a multibillion-dollar education reform effort, is meant to help locals who come up short in their share of the costs. 

“I am proud to announce $140M has been restored to The Blueprint (including $99M for Baltimore City and $26.5M for Prince George’s County) today,” Senate President Bill Ferguson said in a statement on Twitter. “This was due in large part to ongoing and productive dialogue between the Maryland Senate and governor’s office.” 

The $480 million supplemental budget also provides more than $1 million for recruitment and retention efforts within the state’s medical examiner office. The agency that performs autopsies for suspicious and unattended deaths around the state faces a staggering backlog. 

Bodies, some now stored in a makeshift morgue set up in a parking garage, await examination — some for as long as two weeks. Some are part of homicide investigations. 

Officials said they expect the backlog to approach 300 bodies this month. 

The agency is beset by a growing number of vacancies. Victor Weedn resigned as head of the agency last week. A small federal team has been sent to Baltimore to assist. 

Hogan’s supplemental budget proposes $1.2 million in recruitment and retention bonuses for the agency. The first $350,000 would be part of an adjustment made to the current budget year. If the legislature approves it, that portion would become available immediately. The remaining $850,000 would be available on July 1 when the 2023 fiscal year begins.