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More Budget Cuts Next Month, O'Malley Says


Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is planning to present his latest round of budget cuts -- totaling as much as $290 million -- to the Board of Public Works on Nov. 17, he told reporters this morning.

O'Malley provided no details, other than to say the cuts to the current fiscal year's roughly $13 billion budget will include "more painful things like the last painful things we've seen."

One of those recent cuts -- the closing of a state-run psychiatric hospital on the Upper Eastern Shore -- continues to dog O'Malley, as evidenced by this morning's Board of Public Works meeting.

John Colmers, O'Malley's health secretary, was peppered with questions about the wisdom of the closure by Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), a member of three-member board, at a meeting attended by labor union representatives opposed to the decision, as well as Republican members of the General Assembly from the surrounding area.

"Maybe the underlying decision was not ... mandatory or essential," Franchot, who voted for the closure in August, told Colmers, who appeared exasperated.

Facing a backlash from the community, O'Malley last month visited the Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center in Chestertown and announced that it would continue to accept new admissions for 90 days. In the meantime, O'Malley asked Colmers to come up with a detailed plan for what will happen to the roughly 200 patients a year served by the facility.

Advocates of the center were expecting Colmers to present that plan today, but it has been delayed and will now also include analysis about the possibility of keeping the center open, O'Malley indicated.

Meanwhile, Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Queen Anne's) released a letter today accusing Colmers of being "dug in" on the issue. Pipkin and others previously held an all-night sign-waving vigil at the facility.

O'Malley told reporters after today's meeting that he would not like to close the center but that the state is facing a string of equally unattractive choices at it continues to grapple with budget shortfalls this year and next year.

The governor also noted that some of the legislators fighting to keep the center open had urged him in previous years to be more aggressive in cutting the budget.

"They're very comfortable in their contradictions," O'Malley said.

By John Wagner  |  October 7, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Governor , John Wagner  
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Speaking of contradictions Governor, wasn't it you who promises no tax hikes without a 'national security reason'? There is an audio that is still out there from your '06 Ft. McHenry comments. Oh, you won't nickel-and-dime Marylanders, right? EZ-Pass, sales tax hike, car tax. Take it a step further, what about your promises to lower BGE rates for consumers? And about that not touching education funding.....

You will need more than rich hedge fund managers in NY and Clinton to fend off Marylanders upset with you.

Posted by: h20andoil | October 11, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

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