First Click -- Maryland
Your Daily Download of the State's Top Political News and Analysis
Wednesday, August 26, 2009:
BUDGET CUTS, BUDGET CUTS, BUDGET CUTS
Welcome to Judgment Day - at least the latest one for Maryland. Gov. Martin O'Malley and the state's Board of Public Works are expected to approve $454 million in spending reductions today. It's the second, and much larger half, of a three-quarter billion-dollar round of belt-tightening the governor proposed to close a gap that emerged after the state finished counting a lighter-than-expected load of tax receipts in the spring.
O'Malley provided fewer details than expected about the cuts yesterday at a news conference, but details about many of the cuts have since leaked.
First Click has scoured dozens of stories and offers the following down-and-dirty picture of the cuts:
--205 layoffs and the elimination of hundreds more state positions worth $17 million.
--Forced furloughs of up to 10 days for 70,000 state employees, and the closure of state offices for five days around the holidays.
--$210.7 million in cuts to counties, mostly for road maintenance; $20.6 million less for police and $10.5 million in cuts to community colleges.
The total hit represents almost a quarter of the funds budgeted for 2010 to local aid, excluding public education, writes The Post's John Wagner.
Community colleges could be forced to increase tuition and a minimum-security prison in Jessup could close, writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz and Laura Smitherman.
The $10.5 million cut to community colleges amounts to a 5 percent reduction in state aid while enrollment is up 11 percent, Clay Whitlow, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, told the Sun.
Also, state officials say the Herman L. Toulson Correctional Facility in Jessup, which houses 350 inmates, would be closed by March to save $4.7 million under the governor's plan. The building's 88 employees would be moved to other Jessup facilities.
The cuts include even more reductions ($21 million) in Medicaid payments to hospitals, managed care organizations and other health providers and $36 million from the University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, St. Mary's and aid to private colleges, writes The AP's Brian Witte.
REACTION TO CUTS:
BOARD PROCESS HARD FOR PUBLIC TO UNDERSTAND
The generically named Board of Public Works toils mostly in obscurity, but its power is felt intensely by millions when difficult decisions need to be made, writes Aaron C. Davis in the Washington Post.
"The board's power cuts both ways. Its ability to quickly bring state spending back in line when revenues drop has been cited by Wall Street analysts as a factor in the state's ability to maintain a AAA bond rating and borrow at record low rates in recent months ...yet the scant requirements that the board provide notice of its plans or provide time for public comment mean that few get to weigh in on the most devastating budget cuts before they're approved." And, for all the pomp, by the time the participants get together they usually know the outcome.
Aaron C. Davis
August 26, 2009; 8:29 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , First Click
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