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AFSCME Opposes O'Malley Budget Cuts

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed $153 million in budget reductions received a hostile greeting this morning from Maryland's largest state employees union, which strongly backed the Democrat in last year's election.

"Many of them are very bad, and this is only the tip of the iceberg," Sue Esty, assistant director of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told reporters less than half an hour after O'Malley (D) wrapped up a press conference detailing the cuts.

Esty urged the Board of Public Works, a three-member panel, to reject the cuts tomorrow.

The cuts, which affect about 40 state agencies, are an early attempt to confront a deficit of nearly $1.5 billion next year. The $153 million in cuts proposed by O'Malley represent about 1 percent of the general fund budget for the state fiscal year that started July 1. In addition, O'Malley formally announced savings of $60 million from the previous year's budget that can be used to address the looming deficit.

As a result of the cuts, 147 state government positions will be eliminated, only 17 of which are currently filled, O'Malley said.

"We believe we have come up with responsible cuts," O'Malley said during a news conference in the State House at which he acknowledged state leaders have a long way to go to solve the budget shortfall.

AFSCME leaders suggested that the impact of the cuts could be felt well beyond the small number of employees who could lose their jobs, however.

The cuts, for example, include a $1.5 million reduction in the budget of the Maryland State Police, which administration officials said would be achieved by holding positions vacant longer and reducing spending on travel, equipment and gasoline. The cut represents less than 1 percent of the agency budget.

But Pete Peterson, a pilot with the State Police, suggested the cut could affect emergency transport services.

"This small but highly skilled force is dwindling through attrition to the point where the state's Medevac function is stretched to the limit," Peterson said at the AFSCME event, where more than two dozen union members sat behind him in green T-shirts.

Flo Jones, a foster care worker in Baltimore, also questioned a $2 million cut to that program. Administration officials said the cut is possible because of a decline in the program's caseload.

But Jones said caseworkers are already stretched thin. "These are lives, hanging in the balance, and we definitely need more staff and resources, not less," she said.

By John Wagner  |  July 10, 2007; 1:08 PM ET
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I understand this frustration. While O'Malley tries to blunt the impact of the deficit, it is difficult to make cuts to essential services (especially when MD children are involved) and still support a $3 billion ICC project. I doubt MD tax payers will stand for such an imbalanced approach. O'Malley is entitled to his mistakes - he needs to learn from them and listen to tax-payers. They are counting on him to guide MD through the storm. This deficit was created by Erlich's last budget cycle (FY2007).

Posted by: Donny | July 10, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Protestors like those good people at the Board of Public Works meeting become emboldened when they read that Post editors want the "taxes on corporations, services, income, sales and gasoline." increased or "revamped." These protesters are already being squeezed by subprime lenders, gasoline costs and electricity charges. I'd like to know what return the union is getting on their invested pension funds and what rate of return the State is getting on investments. Also, this is now the age of computers, laptops and the internet. Haven't these devices brought about large productivity increases, including reduced costs? If we reduced the taxes these union workers paid every day by cutting the state sales tax, their family budgets would be less stressed. And I would ask these union members for their suggestions as to where we can economize.

Posted by: Robin Ficker of Robin Realty | July 10, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

This O'malley is the nut who does not want to live up to his promise to excute murders..It take $75,000.00 per inmate for a yera . times that buy all the death row inmates you get a lot of the money for programs for the poor that O'snelley is cutting .Poor excuse for gov.

Posted by: joseph | July 10, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

hmmmmmmm,..... this is the guy who promised more spending, lower taxes, no utility rate increases, lower gas prices, less crime, a cleaner environment, better schools, and blamed Ehrlich for a deficit that was looming. Is the guy just pathalogical or is he merely willing to say anything to get elected. It SO serves him right to have the state spending bloodsuckers - his most loyal constituents - turn on him.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

How about if O'Malley stops making Maryland a magnet for taxpayer-subsidized illegal aliens? He could start by making an official requesting help to ICE for a few more immigration raids.

Posted by: Jorge | July 10, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

How about if O'Malley stops making Maryland a magnet for taxpayer-subsidized illegal aliens? He could start by making an official request to ICE for help in the form of a few more immigration raids.

Posted by: Jorge | July 10, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

By trying to import poverty (illegal aliens), the Governor now is talking about tax increases to fight poverty.

Posted by: F.A. | July 11, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

O'Malley's policies are making Maryland a prime destination for illegal aliens who will gladly absorb any tax increases and then some.

But his lackeys will continue to keep their eyes closed to reality and keep bleating their "It's Ehrlich's Fault" mantra until the cows come home.

Posted by: Rufus | July 11, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Don't want to rain on anyone's xenophobic parade, because the illegal alien problem is real - but, these folks are just like everyone else - they want to live where the life is good. Life in Maryland is good, thats why we all want to live there. I work in Law Enforcement and I can tell you - the only solution to this is enforcement of the laws. O'Malley is smart enough to know that this is a long term problem. Only morons believe there is a "magic wand" solution. Making life harsh for anyone via withholding state services is the solution to nothing. Proper law enforcement (properly funded) is the only solution. People, ALL PEOPLE will gravitate to areas where life is prosperous and safe - ironically we should be glad that like in MD is that good.

Posted by: Donny | July 11, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Ronald Reagan would convert back to being a Democrat if he were alive today. The GOP is now the party of big government and corruption.

Posted by: md4bush | July 11, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Donny, you say that you work in law enforcement and then you tell us in the same sentence that "the only solution to [illegal immigration] is enforcement of the laws". I'm just a typical "moron" as you put it but isn't that the "magic wand" solution to this problem?

The reason that there are more and more illegals in Maryland is because they have nowhere else to go. It's too expensive in DC and Northern Virginia is already overcrowed and their population of illegals that work in the DC area is spilling over into Maryland. But I'll agree with you. Thanks to Ehrlich, Maryland is a nice place but the future under O'Malley looks bleak. He's already broken so many campaign promises he makes Hillary Clinton look like a straight shooter.

Posted by: BG from PG | July 11, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

BG - you are indeed consistent. However, did illegal aliens just start coming to MD the night Erlich lost the election? Did O'Malley have a button installed in the Gov mansion to import illegal aliens? Of course not...the "immigration boogy-man" being played by polititians is nothing like the real world problem facing MD or America. My point is that the law enforcement part of the law enforcement part of the solution (I contend the main part of the solution) is neither free nor cheap. Cuts to police, emergency , and law enforcement support budgets will NOT help any problem - not even illegal alien issues. Do O'Malley haters really want to fire police and emergency workers? Just cancel the $3 billion ICC project and hire and train more police and special investigators.

Posted by: Donny | July 11, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Also, in my previous comment, I should NOT have used the word "morons". However, I'm very sick of voters and tax-payers being sold fantasies crafted by politicians about magic solutions to serious problems and expecting them to be cheap or even free. I am even more upset by how many people fall for this and they should really know better. I see this everyday, we get the society we pay for and the society we work for. No solution to the illegal immigration problem will be cheap (not even the 700 mile great wall of texas), and few of the proposed "solutions" even stand a chance to be effective. We need to approach these problems deliberately, and objectively if they will ever be solved. Otherwise, we will always bite the hook when politians wave the bait.

Posted by: Donny | July 12, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse Maryland has done. To use your analogy, O'Malley has chummed the waters with campaign promises that he can't deliver on. The one thing he didn't do (that Ehrlich asked him to do in a debate) was look in the camera and tell Marylanders how he intended (hmmm, 6 or maybe 7%?) to pay for all of those promises.

Posted by: BG from PG | July 12, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Donny, you said "I'm very sick of voters and tax-payers being sold fantasies crafted by politicians about magic solutions to serious problems and expecting them to be cheap or even free."
you must really hate o'malley telling the voters last year that he was going to "stop the BGE rate hikes," huh? Liars like O'Malley lie. Until you demand that he stop lying to the public, he will continue to do so.

Posted by: Re: Donny | July 12, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Not really, it appears to me that O'Malley is going farther than Erlich did to fight that rate hike already. These things don't happen overnight....and usually they don't happen at all. We'll see.

Posted by: Donny | July 12, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

How is O'Malley going farther? Bills are still going up 72% and he said he's "stop the rate hike". That was a lie on Martin's part. Since you said you don't like being sold fantasies, you should have a major problem with Martin's lie. At least Ehrlich was honest when he said this was a result of Mike Miller's 1999 deregulation. Martin continues to lie and by your own logic, you should have a real problem with that.

Posted by: Re: Donny | July 12, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we should stop falling over ourselves to grant special assitance to illegal immigrants and start enforcing the laws against the employers who employ them.

Posted by: md4ferraro | July 13, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

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