ANNAPOLIS — As the Maryland House of Delegates continues work on next year’s state budget, funding for two key county projects has been thrown into question.
A revision that the House Appropriations Committee passed to the state’s operating budget strips funding from the LYNX pilot program set to begin at Frederick High School next fall. The full House chamber is set to start debate on the operating budget Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations capital budget subcommittee voted to accept Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget decision that deauthorizes $16 million in bond funding for a proposed hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick. That recommendation goes to the full Appropriations Committee later this week.
Advocates of the projects said Tuesday they will continue to pursue funding for the programs.
LYNX funding dropped in House budget
The Linking Youth to New Experiences (LYNX) program at Frederick High School is planned to get underway next fall. It is designed to give students flexibility in how they take courses, encouraging different time slots and options for classes, as well as including more internships out of the building.
Hogan (R) included $336,599 for LYNX — which is envisioned as a pilot program for possible broader adoption statewide — in his proposed operating budget earlier this year.
That full amount was proposed to be cut by the House Appropriations’ Education and Economic Development Subcommittee and accepted by the full committee last week.
Delegate Barrie Ciliberti, R-District 4, sits on the subcommittee and said he was out ill for the budget decisions last week. He’s considering an amendment on the House floor that would reinstate the funding.
Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, who is also a member of the education subcommittee, could not be reached Tuesday.
The Maryland State Department of Education opposed the proposed cut before it went through. Frederick County Public Schools was closed Tuesday; calls to school district officials for comment were not immediately returned.
Proposed downtown hotel and conference center gets preliminary cut
When Hogan’s fiscal 2018 budget was unveiled in January, it removed a previous authorization of a $1 million grant for design and planning related to the proposed downtown hotel and conference center. The governor’s capital budget bill also removed a total of $15 million in preauthorizations for bond funding in 2018 and 2019 that the General Assembly passed last year to support the project.
On Tuesday afternoon, the capital budget subcommittee accepted the deauthorization of the full $16 million total. However, the budget has several more hurdles to clear, during which the money could re-emerge.
The subcommittee’s recommendations will move to the full Appropriations Committee and the House chamber in the coming weeks.
Delegate Carol Krimm, D-District 3, was the only Frederick County lawmaker on hand when the capital budget subcommittee made its recommendation Tuesday. She said the vote did not definitively end the project’s chance at funding this year.
“We’re still in the process. This is one side,” Krimm said. “It’s not over.”
The capital and operating budgets move separately through the House of Delegates and Senate. The House will pass a version of the budget first this year, followed by the Senate.
A conference committee — negotiators from each chamber who iron out differences in the House and Senate versions of the budget — added bond funding for the conference center project in an end-of-session amendment last year.
The General Assembly’s informal deadline for a final budget is April 3.
Once passed, the governor has line-item veto authority when it comes to capital budget appropriations.
The proposed hotel and conference center property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. is owned by a business entity formed by members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The Frederick News-Post.