Early look at Maryland's 2010 state budget
Gov. Martin O'Malley is unveiling his proposal for the 2010 budget as we speak, but here are a few salient details:
Spending will actually decline next year. O'Malley is proposing a general fund (the part of the budget that is funded by state tax dollars) of $14.4 billion. That's 1.3 percent less than last year's budget of $14.6 billion and even a bit smaller than the budget from the year before. In fact, it's only about $250 million more than Ehrlich's last budget. That's pretty remarkable; given spending on education, Medicaid and other formula-driven programs, state government spending pretty much always goes up. In fact, spending has never declined in the last 25 years.
O'Malley is proposing about 700 layoffs of state employees.
K-12 education funding takes a hit after years of rapid growth as a result of the Thornton formula. But spending on the University System of Maryland increases enough to maintain a tuition freeze.
The administration's figures assume $350 million in federal stimulus money to help fund Medicaid.
O'Malley resolves a $400 million shortfall in the current year budget through $208 million in cuts and $619 million in fund transfers, which also provides some cash to help the state get through 2010.
In spite of all that, the state budget is still out of whack in the long term. The budget department estimates ongoing gaps between general fund expenditures and revenues of $600-$700 million for the next several years.