Big shocker: Budget numbers getting worse
In case you were wondering if maybe somehow the global financial meltdown might be helping Maryland's budget situation, the answer would be, um, no. New numbers out this afternoon from Department of Legislative Services budget guru Warren Deschenaux peg this year's budget shortfall at about $591 million, up from a Board of Revenue Estiamtes figure of $432 million a month ago. And next year's estimate is up from a little over $1 billion to more than $1.3 billion. And that assumes slots passes. Otherwise, it would top $1.4 billion.
Just in case the legislators who are getting briefed on that this afternoon freak out and look for somewhere to pass the buck, Warren includes, as he often does in his famously droll presentations, a little hint. Pages 21-25 include a handy-dandy guide to just how flush with cash local governments are, at least as DLS sees it. There's the chart showing how many local governments cut property taxes this year (5), how many increased employee salaries by more than 3 percent (14) and how much local government revenue is expected to increase this year ($683.5 million, which would, yes, be more than the state needs to balance its books.) DLS has been hinting for years that the state might want to consider changing the way the state and local governments split the costs for teacher retirement, one of the single biggest things quick fixes available to the state. Local governments, of course, tend to see things differently.