Funding for Farmland Protection and Open Space in MD is under the gun, again!

Dear Friends of Maryland farmland,

Once again, funding for farmland protection and open space in Maryland is under the gun.

Governor Hogan has now submitted his proposed 2017 budget to the state legislature.

In it, he cut more than $40 million from Program Open Space – Maryland’s nationally recognized land protection program that helps farmers permanently protect their farms, makes farmland affordable for the next generation, and protects parks, playgrounds and historic sites.

View of rolling hills in rural Frederick County, Maryland.

View of rolling hills in rural Frederick County, Maryland.

The time has come to draw a line in the sand and tell Governor Hogan: It is time to STOP THE RAIDING. Here’s how you can help.

1. Sign the Partners for Open Space Petition TODAY and ask Governor Hogan and legislative leaders to ‪#‎StopRaiding Program Open Space. Sign here.

2. Forward the petition link to your neighbors. Join American Farmland Trust in saving the land that sustains us in Maryland!

3. Visit the Partners for Open Space website to learn more about the governor’s budget and what it means for land protection in Maryland.

4. Read and share this editorial from the Baltimore Sun: “When will Maryland stop stealing from state land preservation funds?”

Thank you for joining me in fighting for a future for Maryland’s farms, parks, playgrounds and historic sites.

More on Jim Baird

This alert was originally published here.


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EXCERPT from the Baltimore Sun editorial:

Like a less bristly Santa Claus, Gov. Larry Hogan has been traveling around the state in recent months handing out goodies to those he finds deserving. At a recent meeting of the Maryland Association of Counties, he pledged to restore local highway aid; for Carroll County, he offered millions to delay school closings; and in November, he even found money to reopen the previously closed Maryland State Police barracks in Annapolis.

But when it comes to restoring full funding to Maryland’s nationally-recognized program for land preservation, Mr. Hogan has not been nearly so generous. In early December, a work group featuring representatives of four of his state agencies recommended full funding of the program. The administration’s reaction (added as a two-page addendum to the report): Not this year. It didn’t endorse restoring the money at any future date either.

That’s unfortunate, particularly given how Mr. Hogan, as a candidate for governor, was so critical of his predecessor’s pattern of transferring money out of land preservation (which funds such diverse programs as developing parks, preserving farmland and acquiring “heritage” areas that boost tourism) to balance the state’s general fund. We were as well. Long after the recession was over, then-Gov. Martin O’Malley and the legislature were still transferring money out of Program Open Space and other land preservation programs and backfilling with the proceeds of bond sales, raising the state’s debt load. It was a bad policy, and Mr. Hogan was right to call him on it.

Supporters aren’t looking for more tax dollars for the pioneering program, they just want Program Open Space not to be used as a piggy bank. Established more than 40 years ago, Maryland’s land preservation program collects its money at real estate closings through the state’s transfer tax. The genius of that system is how it guarantees more money is set aside for land preservation in an active real estate market — in other words, as more land gets developed, more land is preserved from development, with the majority going for parks and other recreational uses.