Learn about Question 1 on the Ballot

Learn about 2020 Ballot Measures

There are two statewide “Questions” on the ballot this election year, Question 1 and Question 2.  Today we’d like to tell you about Question 1.

Question 1 is a proposed state constitutional amendment which would authorize the General Assembly, in enacting a balanced budget bill for fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter, to increase, diminish, or add items, provided that the General Assembly may not exceed the total proposed budget as submitted by the Governor.  

Under present law, the Governor has more power over the state’s budget than any other Governor in the country – and this has not always served state employees well.  Currently, the Maryland General Assembly receives a budget proposal from the governor and is not allowed to add funds to any area of the budget or move funds around between different priorities. The General Assembly can only reduce spending.

This situation has created two “work arounds” which benefit neither the Executive nor the Legislature:

  • Fenced off funding: The General Assembly attempts to prioritize funding for specific actions (like fencing off money for the recruitment and retention of correctional officers) within an agency’s budget.  The Governor can choose not to spend the fenced off money, and instead return it to the General Fund.  The agency loses the funding, and the GA doesn’t accomplish its goal.
  • Mandated spending: The General Assembly forces the Governor’s hand by mandating spending on an issue.  The mandating can’t take effect until the beginning of the next legislative session.  Mandates can apply to a whole range of issues, big or small.  They also come with expiration dates, which then have to either be re-mandated or let slide.  It is a cumbersome and wasteful process in political gamesmanship.

If Question 1 is approved, the General Assembly will be able to increase or decrease support for state programs and services in specific areas as long as the overall spending is not more than the budget submitted by the Governor. 

AFSCME Council 3 advocated for the passage of this amendment during the legislative session, and we strongly urge a YES vote.

This amendment will create the same checks and balances that every other state has.

Key priorities like schools and health care have been subjected to cuts in the past due to Maryland’s unusual budget rules. Passing this amendment will make it easier for us to invest in the public services AFSCME Council members provide.