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First Click -- Maryland

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009:


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:

For starters:

--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.


  • Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said he thought O'Malley had been "fair" in the distribution of cuts but that the county may have to furlough workers and close public access to some police stations at night to handle the $5.3 million reduction in state police aid, a decision the county council will likely fight, according to Alan Suderman in the Washington Examiner.

  • Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon told The Sun the $35 million cut to Baltimore's budget was not as drastic as she had expected. Dixon said city employees probably would face layoffs and furloughs, and she's examining a parking ticket amnesty period to raise money.

  • Frederick County's share of highway revenue is dropping 90 percent, from about $8.9 million to $892,757, writes the Frederick News-Post. The cut's a big deal in a county that depends on the funding for winter snow removal and other work.

  • State Employees Unions: Patrick Moran, executive director of the Maryland chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, increased his attack yesterday on the furlough-and-layoff plan that accounts for at least $75 million in state spending reductions. He tells WBAL-TV in Baltimore: "This is a shift in priorities that we think is the wrong road to go down."

    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.


  • Citing a pending appeal, Prince George's County is seeking to avoid repaying $17 million in lost wages that a federal judge recently ordered be repaid after ruling the county's furlough plan was unconstitutional.

  • The Leggett administration in Montgomery County is proceeding with plans to acquire two helicopters for its police department, with county officers loading one on a flatbed truck in Princess Anne County to deliver to Montgomery, despite objections from the County Council and the statehouse delegation, says Adam Pagnucco, who has been tracking the purchase. He writes that Council President Phil Andrews has written a letter outlining the council's continued opposition.

  • A light-hearted moment: In recent weeks, Gov. O'Malley has solicited suggested from citizens on how to close the budget shortfall. Yesterday, his budget secretary, T.Eloise Foster, noted that many people recommended shutting down state government on select days to save money. "We agree with that," Foster said. "And we're going to close state government for five years." "No, five days," O'Malley chimed in, as the room erupted in laughter.

  • By Aaron C. Davis  |  August 26, 2009; 8:29 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
    Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A Few More Details Available on O'Malley Cuts
    Next: Complete List of Maryland Budget Cuts Now Available


    What kind of leadership is this? At a time when he is about to furlough and possibly fire county employees, Ike Leggett wants to buy police helicopters? When will they ever learn.

    Posted by: VikingRider | August 26, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

    Cut all state payments to CASA de Maryland and any ACORN-like groups.

    Posted by: NeverLeft | August 26, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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