More state budget cuts coming
Gov. Martin O'Malley inaugurated his new MPT "Ask the Governor" series last night with more ominious talk about Maryland's budget situation, saying he expects another $200 million in cuts to the current fiscal year's budget. That would bring the total O'Malley has trimmed since taking office to somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion.
O'Malley said on MPT that the revenue estimates the state will adopt in December appear likely to be even worse than expected, and expectations weren't great to begin with. It's not yet clear whether the reductions (which would be done through the Board of Public Works) will come in December or in January. But either way, they're likely to be much tougher than the ones O'Malley has made so far. He's now talking about employee furloughs as one of the last options left to him, and that means some painful conversations with state worker unions, which supported him in the 2006 election and have generally felt well taken care of by the administration. It'll be interesting to see whether the goodwill he's stockpiled by pushing for living wage laws and other labor-friendly initiatives will get him through.
Another interesting thing about the budget cutting we've gone through thus far is that nobody has really tried suggesting eliminating state programs that flat out don't work or that we can't afford anymore. Even the Republicans, as they've offered budget reduction proposals, have opted against making specific suggestions and instead have advocated for an across-the-board spending freeze. You'd think that surely in a $30 billion budget, there's got to be something that we don't need to do. Any suggestions?