Md. Lawmakers Get Taste of Tough Budget Choices
The Democratic Caucus of the House of Delegates met this morning for a 90-minute briefing on the state of the state budget, in preparation for the start of the legislative session tomorrow.
It was apparently not a rosy picture presented at the closed door meeting. "Doom and gloom," declared Del. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George's), emerging from the meeting.
"Dire," said Del. Marvin E. Holmes Jr. (D-Prince George's), noting that all "sacred cows" seem to be on the table for possible cuts.
What kind of sacred cows? According to documents distributed to lawmakers there are "hard decisions ahead."
The handout outlines a series of areas lawmakers might look to for cuts as they close a projected $1.9 billion shortfall in the state budget. They include changing formulas for state aide distribution to localties for the teacher pension funds. They also include restructing employee benefits, revisiting recent "costly initiatives" like health care expansion and the three-year freeze in tuition at state universities, tapping the state's rainy day fund or diverting capital funds for projects like the ICC or the state's medical evacuation helicopter fleet into the general fund and using them for operating cash.
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