Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) on Wednesday accused Gov. Larry Hogan (R) of going back on a five-year deal to provide operating funds for the struggling Prince George’s County hospital system.
“We had an agreement,” Miller said after reviewing the governor’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal. “The governor is reneging on his pledge to Prince George’s hospital.”
Under Hogan’s budget, the hospital system would receive $7.5 million from the state this year, instead of the $15 million in operating funds it expected. In fiscal 2018, the hospital would get $15 million instead of the expected $30 million.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said the agreement forged last year is flexible and is not being violated by the governor.
Funding is “still on track; it’s just being pushed into outer years,” Mayer said, adding that Hogan consulted the University of Maryland Medical System, which is taking over management of the hospital, before deciding how much funding to allocate.
Mayer said that Miller can ask the legislature to reduce the budget in other areas to provide the additional funds to the hospital.
The governor and the senate president, whose district includes a slice of Prince George’s County, have been at loggerheads over funding for the county hospital system since Hogan took office.
In 2011, during the administration of then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), an agreement called for the state to provide $15 million annually as part of the transition of the Prince George’s health-care system to one that would include a new, more expansive teaching hospital.
The agreement expired after Hogan took office. The governor refused to provide similar funding in fiscal 2016, prompting Miller and other Democratic legislative leaders to propose a bill requiring funding in future years.
The bill — which called for $30 million in fiscal 2018, $15 million in fiscal 2019 and $5 million each in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 — became law without the governor’s signature.
In the meantime, Hogan announced in February that he would provide $15 million for the hospital in fiscal 2017 and would give $55 million total in operating funds over five years. The governor did not say how much would be allocated each year.
Miller said Wednesday that he would make sure the hospital got the funding it needs.
“He’s just thrown up roadblocks,” Miller said of Hogan. “But it’s going to happen.”