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December 4, 2008

GOP weighs in on Maryland furloughs

The state Republican party sent out a broadside against Gov. Martin O'Malley's plans for state worker furloughs this afternoon, calling them "sleight of hand." The party chairman, Jim Pelura, says in the news release:

"While I would applaud attempts to cut truly wasteful spending, this game that Governor O’Malley continues to play is bordering on the ridiculous. In one hand, O’Malley dangles unpaid leave for state employees, including those making less than $40,000 who can least afford it.  This follows revelations from earlier this year that O’Malley’s senior staff got huge raises over their predecessors when they were hired. Perhaps they should take reductions.

“If the governor had taken the suggestion of Republicans in the General Assembly and level funded the budget for a year, there would be no need for these antics.  Instead of playing shell games, Governor O’Malley and the Democrat leadership in the General Assembly should sit down and really make some hard choices to cut out wasteful spending.  In addition, the Republican leaders in the General Assembly have put politics aside and repeatedly offered to assist in this effort. They should be taken up on that offer."

(In fairness, it should be noted that this isn't exactly O'Malley's only budget cutting plan; it comes on the heels of well over $1 billion in budget cuts over the last year or so, and is prelude to about $200 million more in cuts the governor has said he will propose in the coming weeks.)

Posted by Andy Green at 4:51 PM | | Comments (33)


Andy, cuts or reduction in proposed spending?

Some of both.

Actualy the two furlough days wouldn't be too bad if they weren't in the same pay period or both at holiday time. I agree anybody below 40,000 takes the two days but after that it should be one day for every 10,000 dollars made this would be more far and equitable to all employees. O'Malley would have 13 days to take off without pay. Those of us making between 40,000 and 50,000 would have three days and 50,000 to 60,000 would have four, etc.

As a state employee who makes under $40,000 I support the furloughs. It's better than watching my co-workers get laid off. And about the days being in the same pay period, they aren't. At least they aren't for my department. Buck up people, it could be MUCH worse.

I think O'Malley and all of the state legislatures should be willing to give back at least a month's salary. Why should just the workers suffer?

I love how he is "saving" the state $34 million by furloughing state employees, and we get news that the state is spending $71 million to buy land. Net savings to the state yesterday, -$37 million.

Keep up the good work!

To be fair, the money for land preservation comes from dedicated funds set aside specifically to prevent them being monkeyed around with to balance budgets or pad other programs.

Actually, the money for the land is coming from a grant from the federal governmenr for ROAD expansion...go figure! -$37 million minus new roads = state of md(mally) failed again to better the state......

Funny, as a fellow state employee, the two proposed days ARE in fact in the same payperiod 12/17-12/30.

It was a lot worse in 1990-91; State workers had to take 10 days furloughs.

I thought that by now that the persons in charge of our budgets would be able to account for how the money is being spent so that the state workers won't have to carry the burden once again. What ever happened to change? Wonder when we all could carry the burden from the top level on down and then maybe things won't be so one sided. Yes maybe I am just dreaming or wanting life to be fair for us all.

The money used to buy the land comes from earmarked monies, NOT the general fund.

Ehrlich played THAT shell game for four years, just moving money around from fund to fund covering up glaring deficits.

The land, is cheap right now, by this time next year it may be worth much more, thus a net profit for the state.

I mean, I am no huge backer of O'Malley, but it is striking how many people are ignorant of simple economics - buy low, sell high.

The deficit right now is in the general fund. O'mally has already cut over 2 BILLION dollars from the budget (more than Ehrlich ever did and that is not including his last-minute "get me elected spending splurge in 2006").

O'Malley HAS been cutting the budget at very brisk levels. To deny that is simply burying your head in the sand.

AS for the tax increases, which are sure to come up, Bob didn't raise taxes, but he raised fees and tolls out the wazoo didn't he?

This is basic economics people, these are trying times around the country, most states are seeing the same type of budget shortfalls and many are a lot worse.

We are the richest state in the union yet your average middle class earner in MD pays LESS state income tax than the same earner in ALABAMA.

Taxes are a necessity in life, if you want your services you pay for them. If you want to see a drastic reduction in the services that helped make MD richest state in the union then do not complain when that government isn't doing its job when it happens.

This guy's WORSE than Spendening. Frankly they should cut everyone's budget which is already bloated with dead weight. A few layoffs here and there would in some cases make the state more efficient. I'm sick of people feeling entitled to their job. If you're not pulling your weight, cuts would either motivate you to work harder, learn more to be more useful, or you'll get laid off. Any of the above is preferable punishing everyone "equally."

As a state worker @ under $40k- 2 days okay, I will manage. But, do not keep coming back to that solution. I think back to the emerency sessions of the General Assembly... how much did that cost?

I am a govenment employee that has experienced furloughs in the past. They are a lesser of two evils, the other being layoffs. The union leaders are worthless. They couldn't think their way out of a paper bag.

Good thing when Governor Ehrlich was in office he socked all of that boomtime money away and really cut into the state budget like the Republicans are clammoring for right now!

Oh wait.... that's right. He didn't actually do any of that and mimed the national Republic party, spending like a drunken sailor. And when it came time for slots in Maryland, the Republic leadership thought it would be better to play politics.

Republican readers of this blog: you either change your representation or continue to take elections on the chin.

the 2 proposed days are December 26 and January 2.

Two different pay periods.

There is so much upper level management fluff in all departments. I have been there and I have seen it! Layoffs of the "dead wood" or an early retirement incentive would be attractive to some "old-timers". The problem with layoffs is that most of the time it is politically decided within each department - get rid of who they don't like - they still keep the fluff. Some of the "old timers" are just cruising: coming in, sitting at their desk, trying to figure our how to surf the internet or taking naps, then packing up and going home. It is totally unfair to leave this budget cutting decision to so many top executives that do not see what is going on in each department - I could write a book!

i know the proposed ones are, but for those that are above 40K, when are they? And, for many families, this effects both income earners which doubles the amount lost in income. Nothing like putting your own employees even farther in debt.

i really dont think o'malley knows what in the world he is doing from one day to another. he is nothing but a big liar. think about it he lied about BGE and look at things now 125% increase since he took office, he left balitmore in shambles he did nothing for the city but you all voted his stupid behind in to be the governor. if he couldn't run a city how you think he would be able to run the state?? another thing, he tricked everyone into believing that slots was our way out of this deficit. which was a complete lie again!! lottery was suppose to be for education just like he said it would be with slots!! what lottery do you know is heping the school system?? I KNOW OF CITY SCHOOLS THAT NEED WINDOWS (NORTHWESTERN) WHERE IS THE MONEY FROM LOTTERY FOR THAT?? now after all that scared tactics he and his crew played on our emotions, All of you people voted for slots like baltimore need a slots machines!! WE NEED SLOTS LIKE WE NEED ANOTHER CRACK HEAD ON THE CORNER AND BULLET HOLE TO THE HEAD!! has anyone took notice of one thing???? THE DAY AFTER THE ELECTION WHY IS IT THAT WE HAS SO MUCH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO PURCHASE LAND AND BUILDINGS FOR SLOTS TO GO INTO?? ANYONE CARE TO EXPLAIN THAT?? NOW HE WANT TO FURLOUGH??? WOW... im a democrat and i didnt even vote for this jackass.. but all you did and now he is working on re-election. and he did all of this with the help of our indicted to be mayor.. makes you wonder why she is being indicted.. HUH? he should be indicted right along with her... EVERYONE NEED TO WAKEUP!!!

my mistake. I meant, are the additional days for those that make more than 40K in the same period as the 2 mandatory ones? Also, in many families both income earners are state employees...twice the lose in income. Many of state employees are already doing the job of two or three people because of positions not being filled when the open...and I'm talking 5 yrs worth of "covering", not just over the past year, which puts us even farther behind. The general public gets ticked off offices are closed or understaffed (whether for holidays vacations, or furloughs) when they need assistance. The furloughs will just put the states own employees in an an even worse personal financial situation in a poor economy and decrease morale. Why not look at the funding to organizations that are now have multi-millions in the bank from fees and fund? They are more than happy to receive the money, but won't do a thing to assist (think license plates).

frankly, i feel there is no point in pointing fingers. i would rather take a day off without pay and have a job to come back to rather than come in for work and get told i no longer have a job at all.

12/26 and 01/02 are in two different pay periods, i did read somewhere that those of us that in the less than 40,000 salaries, thos two days would be spread out over our salaries instead of being taken directly out. those that have to take the two and three extra days get taken directly out of those pay periods when they take them, so it would greatly affect their pay if they were take 2-3 days in the same pay periods.

First, back in the summer, in the first "budget restructuring", Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly took *$70 Million* from our pension fund to pay for other state budget shortfalls. Now they're going to furlough us as well. It's also interesting how out of proportion the furloughs are. Everyone making over $60,000 - without any further distribution farther up through the pay scale - only takes one more day than those of us making over $40,000; and a total of three more days than those making less than $40,000. So, everyone making $80,000, or $100,000 or more is losing money in a *much* smaller proportion than those of us making less. My four days of furlough cause me to lose proportionately more money out of my annual salary than a fifth day causes someone to lose who is making $100,000. Still, the middle class and the workers shoulder the burden, while management and the wealthier get the easier ride.

State Employee: that is right.

As I said, my spouse and I are both in the $40K range, so we potentially end up losing 8 days of pay, not 4, unless one of us is emergency/public saftey/essential personnel. No matter how you break that down, 8 days is still almost and entire payperiod worth of pay loss.

4 days of no pay is a car payment and 8 days for a 2 state employee household is a mortgage payment!

"I mean, I am no huge backer of O'Malley, but it is striking how many people are ignorant of simple economics - buy low, sell high."

How about this simple economic idea. If you don't have the money don't buy it.

Any more services like the ones we've been getting from the state - you may as well fire them all. When is O'Malley and the legislature going to cut their salaries as is being done on other states?

this pay period ends tomorrow 12/6, next pay period ends 12/20. the next pay period after that is 12/21-1/3 which does include 12/26 and 1/2.

As an employee of the University of Maryland, the two days do fall in the same period. I make about 30,000, and losing 20% of my check at a time when I'm struggling with car repairs, medical bills and other expenses really hurts. And coming at Christmas, it really feels like a slap in the face. So much for gifts and all of that this year. I’ll be happy enough to have food, I suppose, but it hurts to see so many people celebrating at a time when you have very little. The season has always been depressing for me, and this year is the worst.

If they need to help to balance the budget in the fiscal year, I can't see why it can't be spread out over time. You could loose a few hours a week as opposed to taking a big hit all at once. For those at the lower end of the pay-scale, this really hurts. The Grinch might have been able to come up with a better plan.

I would rather see a one cent increase in the gas tax, or a tax on luxury vehicles and fuel inefficient SUVs, something that could help raise money and provide an environmental incentive. I’m amazed that for a Democratic state, they sure know how to take it out on the lower and middle classes. I vote Democratic based on the lesser of evils approach, but I’m very annoyed at O’Malley’s decision. I feel there is no party that really represents me here.


People cant afford their mortgage payments and their homes enter foreclosure.

All of those unpaid loans cause instability in the banking and insurance communities.

Banks tighten loan requirements and less capital is available.

Without capital, the economy fails to grow.

An economy that isn't growing, isnt worth investing in and investors pull their money.

The economy that wasnt growing now starts shrinking.

Shrinking economies create less tax revenues than states had budgeted for.

Maryland "cures" the problem by furloughs or cutting pay to a large chunk of middle class maryland.

Those cuts lead to hundreds of state workers falling further behind finacially.

Some of them cant afford their mortgage payments and their homes enter foreclosure.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Those of us making just over 40 grand a year can no more afford a loss of 4 days than those making less. Especially those of us with one income. It is entirely unfair to expect us to lose 4 days of pay while those making 60 grand and up are only losing 1 more day than we are losing. The agency heads making 100 grand and above only lose 1 more day of pay than I do and I just started making 40 grand this year. Totally unfair! Those under 50 grand should not lose any pay. Put the burden on those making over 50 grand.

Someone should remind the politicians that the state does not run on their dynamic personalities alone. People work for the state, often at lower pay than if they were in the private sector. Cut spending elsewhere rather than making those whose labor makes the state function bear the cost of mismanagment!

As a state employee, I will say that I'll gladly lose 4 days of pay if it means I get to keep my job, and if it means that my coworkers get to keep their jobs. I'm not happy about losing the money (and could really use it right now), but the alternative of being unemployed is very scary. I'm not an O'Malley fan, but I support this idea.
To clarify, I'm pretty sure the plan is for them to work in some way of taking the pay out of a number of pay checks stretched over a period of 7 we're not losing full days worth of pay in back-to-back pay periods (12/17-12/30 and 12/31-1/13). Stretched out like that, and after taxes are taken out, it will be much easier to stomach than just assuming a loss of $300-400 (or so) within two weeks. That stretched out over 13 pay periods would be $23-30 each pay period...and that's before you assume the taxes that will get taken out regardless. All-in-all, that means you really lose roughly $16-21 per paycheck. If I get to keep my job, they can keep $20 from each pay check.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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