Annapolis - GOP Senators tried to fix the Maryland budget today by keeping spending at last year's level; creating an incentive for state agencies to fix their bad audits; and rejecting any special fund transfers to the general funds. All three amendments were rejected.
Senator Pipkin called for the Senate to adopt a "live within your means" budget instead of the current proposal that grows the budget by $1.1 billion and depends on new taxes and fees.
Senator Reilly stated from the Senate Floor, "Maryland's budget does not make fiscal sense and is irresponsible."
In the last audit cycle, 38 state agencies had audits with three or more repeat bad findings:
· DHMH paid $426,000 in Medicaid benefits to dead people;
· SHA improperly used $11.3 million without BPW approval;
· MDE mismanaged the Bay Restoration Fund (Flush Tax) -a $300,000 wastewater treatment plant was upgraded with money earmarked for septic systems; MDE also gave almost $60,000 worth of septic system grants on land without any structures.
· MTA spent hundreds of millions of dollars without verifying bills and had little control over payroll.
Senator Pipkin offered an amendment that would decrease funding in these agencies until the agencies fix the egregious audits.
Senator Reilly proposed stopping all special fund transfers to the general fund to shore up the budget. Each year, these funds, like the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), the Waterway Improvement Fund, and many others are raided. Consequently taxes and fees are raised to pay the deficit. This year, DNR is trying to raise the boating fees by 400% to fund the depleted Waterway Improvement Fund that was raided by the tune of $48 million since 2002.
The Senators will be offering more amendments as the Senate Floor votes on the three other budget bills this afternoon.