ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — While citing bipartisan agreement on health care, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made a renewed push for legislation to fight crime and boost school safety on Monday.
The move came as the General Assembly enters its last two weeks of its 90-day legislative session in a big election year.
Hogan, a Republican who is working with a Democratic-led legislature, praised agreement on a bill to rescue the fiscally struggling individual market in the state's health care exchange.
The agreement would tap about $350 million that health insurance companies and managed care organizations won't have to pay in taxes due to the federal tax overhaul to keep rates down for the next year. It also puts the state on a path for a long-term solution through reinsurance, which protects insurers against very high claims.
"Washington is dysfunctional, and the process is broken, but here in Maryland we have worked together in a commonsense bipartisan manner," Hogan said at a news conference. "We came together and rolled up our sleeves to address this crisis head on."
The governor also highlighted remaining work, particularly on school safety and crime. Last week's school shooting in southern Maryland that resulted in the deaths of two students has highlighted the issue in the state.
Hogan is backing a proposal he says would set aside $125 million for capital improvements by tapping casino revenues that go to a state education fund. He also has called for another $50 million annually to pay for school resource officers and technology.
While lawmakers are moving forward with a separate measure that would require the casino money set aside for education to be spent above mandated education funding formulas, the governor's education lockbox bill to earmark the money for school safety has not advanced.
A panel of lawmakers who resolved differences in House and Senate budget legislation on Monday agreed to about $41.6 million for school safety initiatives for the next fiscal year.
"I think there's enough now to be spent," Democratic Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, one of the leading negotiators on the panel, said about the school safety funding.
The House and Senate still need to vote on the conference committee's agreement to finish the budget work before the assembly is scheduled to adjourn at midnight April 9.
Hogan also urged the House to pass a crime bill the Senate approved. It includes tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders and funding for programs to reduce crime. The measure is partly a response to rising crime in Baltimore, which had 342 murders in 2017 and set a record for homicides on a per-capita basis.