General Assembly passes $52B 2022 budget

The Maryland General Assembly passed the $52.4 billion fiscal year 2022 budget, HB588, which is higher than the $49 billion budget pitched by Gov. Larry Hogan in late January.

 

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Delegate Maggie McIntosh called the bill “a bipartisan, historic act which will lift our state out of the pandemic into recovery.”

“This is one of the most conservative budgets I have ever been a part of. It has $2.1 billion in cash reserves. What we did with this historic amount of money is not just spend it, we replenished our rainy day fund. We paid back the Blueprint fund … We actually paid back a good portion of the relief plan we passed earlier this year. We put cash back into our accounts and we leave here this year with a budget that is not only fully balanced, but it erases any deficit for this year and next year. It gives us a path in Maryland to recovery that is unprecedented. … But it still helps those who need our help.”

She went on to say the state has not fully recovered. Unemployment is not below 5%, small businesses and families are struggling, but we are fully funding agencies to help get them back on their feet.

McIntosh said the budget includes $300 million to expand broadband to rural, suburban and urban communities, which helps patients access care via telemedicine.

“We have paved a way for Marylanders to move forward.”

Delegate Wendell Beitzel, a Republican, lauded the budget proposal and urged his fellow Republicans to embrace it.

“When we left here last year we were looking at dire circumstances and things have turned around. We’re not look at structural deficit this year. We’re not looking at structural deficit next year. Overall, this is a very good budget.”

The budget includes $572 million of federal funding for COVID-19 testing, contract tracing and vaccinations. The RELIEF Act authorizes $687 million of state spending and provides $585 million of targeted tax relief across fiscal 2021 and 2022 to support Maryland’s recovery.

The budget also includes $13.5 billion for Medicaid funding for more than 1.5 million residents. The expenditures will increase by about $673 million to support the enrollment growth of over 151,000 individuals since the pandemic began, as well as provider rate increases.

Most health care providers will receive pay rate increases of up to 4%.

Other noteworthy health-related budget items include:

  • Behavioral health care will get a $2 million boost from the Medical Cannibus Commission Fund and $1.5 million from the Board of Professional Counselors fund. The Behavioral Health Administration will be appropriated $468 million.
  • The Department of Health will be allocated $28 million from the general fund, with the caveat that funds can be reallocated to different departments to support the states’s opioid/heroin epidemic. Another $2 million will come from federal funds.
  • Approximately $500,000 will go to Family Health and Chronic Disease Services to fund contracts related to its Kidney Disease Program.
  • The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will receive approximately $44 million, half of which will come from the general fund and the other half from federal funds.
  • The Office of Health Care Quality will receive $25 million.
  • Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Services is set to receive $274 million.
  • The governor’s budget also includes $296 million for substance use disorder services — a $35 million increase over FY 2021.