ANNAPOLIS, OCT. 20 -- A healthy Maryland economy along with some unexpected one-time revenue will give Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the state legislature a surplus of about $275 million to work with for next year's budget.
William Ratchford, chief fiscal adviser to the General Assembly, delivered that estimate today to the Spending Affordability Committee, which will make recommendations to the legislature and the governor on how much of the $275 million can be spent for new programs or expansion of old programs.
Ratchford told the committee that several factors contributed to the large surplus.
The chief one was a $90 million income tax windfall that took place last year when Marylanders rushed to sell investments before the change in federal income tax laws restricted capital gains tax writeoffs. That produced a one-time windfall that will not be repeated, Ratchford said.
Revenue from several tax sources also were higher than expected, and some agencies turned money back to the treasury because they spent less than was budgeted.
Presenting his report one day after the stock market dropped 508 points, Ratchford told the committee that "I can't think of a more difficult day to try to suggest where the state economy is headed."
If the spending committee follows the usual pattern of limiting budget growth to the amount of growth in personal income of Maryland taxpayers, it will recommend that Schaefer use only about $57.1 million of the surplus for new spending programs.
Possible uses for the surplus:Returning part of it to taxpayers in the form of selective tax cuts or tax breaks. Putting more money into the fund the state is creating to pay off depositors whose money is tied up in defunct savings and loan associations. Paying for more construction projects with cash instead of financing them with 15-year bonds on which the state must pay interest.