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Posted at 2:01 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

O'Malley likely to reject budget cut affecting disabilities providers

By John Wagner

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is not likely to accept a recommendation from his budget advisers that would freeze some funding next year for state-paid providers of mental health and developmental disabilities services, aides said Wednesday.

The potential cut was among many listed in an internal memo to O'Malley (D) last month that was mentioned in a recent Washington Post article about choices the governor faces as he tries to balance the state budget.

The memo from Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster noted that legislation passed by the General Assembly last year linked some inflationary increases paid to mental health and disabilities services providers -- for utilities and transportation costs, for example -- to other increases in the state budget. The aim of the legislation was to ensure more equal treatment of those providers, who had not fared well in recent budgets.

"However, the statue also clarifies that community provider adjustments are contingent on limitations of the state budget," the memo said. "Given the fiscal condition of the state, (the budget department) recommends that no such increase be provided."

After the story appeared, service providers protested that the administration had misinterpreted the legislation -- arguing that its point was to deny such funding discretion.

Aides to O'Malley declined to comment Wednesday on the internal memo itself, but one described the issue as likely to be "moot," saying O'Malley is not inclined to accept the recommendation.

The aides request anonymity because they were speaking about budget decisions O'Malley has not finalized.

By John Wagner  | January 5, 2011; 2:01 PM ET
Categories:  Governor, John Wagner  
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