Maryland Lawmakers Asked to Give Up Some Pay
A day after a board forced 70,000 state employees to take as many as 10 unpaid furlough days, Maryland's Democratic legislative leaders said they would volunteer to do the same and urged every member of the General Assembly to follow suit.
It's unclear, however, if they will. Last year, 22 state senators and delegates did not return any pay despite a similar request made by legislative leaders.
Under Maryland's constitution, the salary of legislators cannot be reduced. However, Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-Calvert), and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said Thursday that a voluntary program is being established to allow lawmakers to donate a portion of their salary back to the state. A similar program existed last year.
If lawmakers give up their pay at the same rate as those forced to take pay cuts through furloughs, senators and delegates would forgo pay for eight days, based on their annual salaries of $43,000. The General Assembly meets full-time for four months a year.
In a joint statement, Miller and Busch, who each make $56,500 and work from the capital for many more days throughout the year, said they would both contribute 10 days. That's the number that the highest-paid state workers would lose under the graduated scale approved on Wednesday by Gov. Martin O'Malley and his fellow Board of Public Works members.
"I hope every member of the General Assembly will share in our workforce's sacrifice by participating in the furlough program and making the appropriate contribution to the State," Miller said in a joint statement released with Busch.
Legislative offices will also close for the five days around holidays that state agencies will close, according to the statement. Some 633 staffers to lawmakers won't be paid for those, or for as many as five additional furlough days, depending on salary. The plan will save $1.1 million, the leaders said.
In the last two and a half years, the General Assembly has cut $9.5 million, or 12 percent, from its budget.
Alexandra Hughes, Busch's spokeswoman, said it's unclear if some or all of the 15 percent of lawmakers who did not return a portion of their salary last year donated it elsewhere.
August 27, 2009; 4:33 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , General Assembly , Maryland State Budget
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