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First Click -- Maryland

Your Daily Download of the State's Top Political News and Analysis


Monday, August 17, 2009:


DECISION WEEK ON BUDGET CUTS
On Saturday it became obvious why Gov. Martin O'Malley canceled a $12,000 reception and his staff spent much of last week tamping down expectations that state officials would have any of the usual fun at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City.

O'Malley used the gathering to drop a budget bomb, writes The Post's John Wagner, telling county leaders that over half the $470 million in cuts he'll take to the Board of Public Works next week will likely come from funding cuts to local health services, police departments, community colleges and road maintenance programs administered by county governments.

The AP's Brian Witte notes O'Malley said the cuts - roughly 250 million - was the recommendation of his budget secretary.

Question is, what funding will the state cut? Prince George's and Montgomery counties already laid off, furloughed or cut 700 jobs this spring.

In Prince George's, police officers and firefighters were also furloughed, taking homicide detectives off busy weekend shifts and ending full-time staffing of some county fire stations. In Montgomery, bus service was cut and road projects delayed.

Laura Smitherman of The Baltimore Sun notes so-called disparity grants that help poor areas of the state, including Prince George's and Baltimore, may be on the block for the first time in years.

If cuts to police and fire are included, it could negate the good news on federal stimulus funding the governor touted last month: Eight counties were granted stimulus money for 112 police officers.

Whatever decisions are made will be coming this week, ensuring a week of lobbying and intense debate in the capital. O'Malley is expected to bring the cuts to a vote at the Board of Public Works next Wednesday.

In addition to cuts to counties, O'Malley's office has said tens of millions must also come in the form of renegotiated agreements with public employees unions. The last word from the state's largest union was it was opposing another round of furloughs.

ALSO HAPPENING TODAY:

  • O'Malley, U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil, House Speaker Michael Busch, and others will gather for the groundbreaking of the Queen Anne's Emergency Center in Grasonville. The Emergency Center, which is scheduled to open next year, is being built by the University of Maryland Medical System and will be run by Shore Health System.

  • A state commission meets tonight to help market Maryland seafood. The commission has been trying to increase consumption and distribution of the state's catch.

  • Conservative Blog Red Maryland lists congressional representatives who have and have not held town-hall meetings on health care: Among others, Sen. Benjamin Cardin and Rep. Frank Kratovil are in. Rep. John Sarbanes held telephone conferences. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger are no shows, according to the blog.

  • _ Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will attend the funeral of Sgt. Michael W. Heede, Jr., in Abingdon. Heede died last month in Afghanistan.
  • By Aaron C. Davis  |  August 17, 2009; 5:03 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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