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Superintendents told budget cuts will affect them

With Maryland facing a $2 billion shortfall next year, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) offered few budgetary assurances to a meeting of the state's public school superintendents Tuesday morning -- and the Senate president was far more blunt in a later appearance.

"It means you're going to have to start taking a portion of the hit," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).

With the help of federal stimulus money, the state's schools have fared far better during tight budget times than other state-funded entities. Or, as O'Malley put it: "Public education, K-12, is the only member of the herd that hasn't taken a trip to the slaughterhouse."

O'Malley's proposal for the 2011 fiscal year is due to the legislature in January, and he is crafting another round of mid-year budget cuts in the meantime. He offered few specifics to the superintendents meeting in Annapolis about what cuts they might expect -- but repeated several times the challenge presented by cutting $2 billion from a $13 billion budget.

O'Malley said he is also hopeful that Congress will extend federal stimulus funding -- particularly a more generous match for state Medicaid programs -- which could provide some relief to Maryland and other states in coming years.

In terms of cuts, Miller spoke mostly about his well-known desire to shift the burden of teacher pension costs from the state to the counties.

"I'd like to see the counties take control of the teacher pension system," he told reporters after addressing the group. He acknowledged that a complete shift of the responsibility is not likely, however.

While pulling few punches about the budget outlook, Miller sought to assure the group he is a champion of education.

"I'm certainly not an education basher," he said. "I love it very much."

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) is scheduled to address the superintendents Tuesday afternoon.

By John Wagner  |  October 20, 2009; 10:56 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Maryland State Budget  
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Next: Miller: Ehrlich unlikely to run for governor again


I don't agree that school systems haven't taken a budget hit already. When the state cut local funds to counties, the counties had to pass along some of those cuts to the school systems. Granted, the school systems haven't taken as big a hit as some agencies, but school systems have not been immune either.

Posted by: idolwatcher | October 20, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

If the pols in Annapolis are unwilling to raise taxes to match state spending, then EVERY state program or service, including schools, should get trimmed. You really think there is no waste, fraud, or other budgetary fat that couldn't be cut from the state schools without impacting students? I think not.

Posted by: VikingRider | October 20, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

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