Miller: Counties Have Been "Fat, Dumb and Happy"
Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said in a television interview yesterday that before Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) lays off employees to close a budget gap, he should look for savings by cutting state aid to local governments.
"I would hope before he goes to layoffs, he would go to the counties and say, you're 40 percent of the state budget," Miller told Bruce DePuyt on NewsChannel 8. "You're fat, dumb and happy in terms of the state revenue."
Asked by DePuyt if he believed counties had truly not been working to cut their budgets, Miller said, "Some of them are. I know for example that the county executive of Montgomery and the county executive of Prince George's county are. But there are other counties that have huge rainy day funds, their employees are getting large pay increases...They can do a little bit with less from the state of Maryland during these very tough fiscal times."
For instance, Miller said he would support shifting a portion of local teacher pension funding from the state to counties. He noted local governments set the salaries that determine pension costs, but the state foots the bill for retirement funding.
"We didn't set these salaries, we didn't negotiate them, yet the state is asked to pay them without a funding source whatsoever," he said.
"I know the Speaker's in favor of it. I'm in favor of it. But the governor is dancing all the around the issue. Right now, he doesn't even want to talk about it," Miller said the possibility of the change being adopted by the legislature during its 90-day session.
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