Md. House Speaker: Layoffs Are Off the Table
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said today that state employee layoffs and tax increases are off the table as Maryland leaders scramble to fill another $500 million hole in the state budget. But he and others cautioned that some tough choices are ahead.
The new shortfall is reflected in revised revenue estimates issued today by a state panel. Given the deepening recession, the Board of Revenue Estimates is now predicting more than $1.1 billion less in tax collections over two years than it projected in December. Some unallocated revenue will keep the state from having to cut the full amount. We previewed the new estimates today.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) huddled with his budget advisers and senior staff and pledged to work with legislative leaders to balance the state's $14 billion general fund budget, which he said "has already seen a lot of deep cuts."
"There's nothing left that isn't important," O'Malley said. "That's unfortunately the situation that we're in."
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said lawmakers should revisit O'Malley's proposal to freeze university tuition for a fourth year. He also said state employees could face additional furloughs.
"A lot of decisions the governor has made are going to have to be revisited," Miller said.
O'Malley said he is hopeful layoffs could be avoided. But Busch said they should not even be considered. "We're going to do everything we can to keep people in the workforce," Busch said.
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