Correction: Earlier versions of this story gave an incorrect number of jobs that Northrop Grumman must keep in Maryland in order to avoid having to pay back any of the incentive money it will receive from the state. The company must preserve 10,000 jobs. The article has been corrected.
Maryland’s top legislative leaders want to hear directly from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) before deciding the fate of a $20 million grant to defense giant Northrop Grumman that has become mired in an unrelated spending fight.
But Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said the governor has “no interest in attending a meeting to discuss an issue that was unanimously approved by both the Senate and the House six months ago.”
The Legislative Policy Committee, chaired by House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), has the final say on whether to greenlight the agreement after reviewing its terms.
A July meeting at which the 28-member committee was scheduled to review the deal was canceled because several Republicans were at the GOP convention in Cleveland.
In August, after Hogan refused to release $80 million in funding for other projects, aides to Busch said that there were no plans to schedule a vote on the Northrop Grumman package — and that there were not enough votes among the committee’s 14 House members to finalize the grant.
Busch and Miller did not mention the fiscal fight in a letter Tuesday inviting Hogan to testify about the grant, instead focusing on the need for “a full public airing of the total amount of the economic incentive package and terms negotiated, to maintain transparency in how we spend taxpayer dollars.”
They invited Hogan to testify before the committee this fall. The state has promised the grant as an incentive to keep jobs in Maryland.
Mayer said that the details of the agreement were available to lawmakers when they voted for the deal and that the information is still in the public domain. “The Senate President and the Speaker voted for and supported this effort — it is unclear why they are waffling now,” Mayer said in an emailed statement. “The ball is in their court.”
The $20 million grant comes out of the state’s “Sunny Day Fund,” with an agreement that Northrop would repay some or all of the money if it failed to keep at least 10,000 jobs in Maryland for the next 10 years and to invest $100 million in capital projects in the state.
Busch’s chief of staff, Alexandra Hughes, said he and Miller didn’t get detailed information about the Northrop Grumman agreement until May 6, after the legislative session ended. She said the Department of Legislative Services still doesn’t have enough information to provide lawmakers with a thorough analysis of the deal.
The legislature this year also approved a five-year tax credit for the defense firm that was opposed by some Democrats.
“As you know, legislation for the $37.5 million tax credit was controversial, but both of us worked to ensure passage of this incentive that you requested,” Busch and Miller wrote.
The $80 million sought by Democrats is all-or-nothing funding, meaning that Hogan must approve all of it or use none. It includes about $25 million to fund teacher pensions and school construction.
The administration said it will save the $80 million in fenced-off funding for future needs and use existing agency budgets to cover some items, including higher reimbursements for Medicaid, lead-poisoning prevention in Baltimore and public-safety communications improvements.