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January 25, 2009

Some legislators slow to take a furlough

Laura Smitherman reports today that about a third of Maryland's lawmakers have yet to return a portion of thier salaries as part of an optional furlough program designed to show solidarity with other state workers who find themselves in a not-so-optional furlough program. Under the constitution, legislators can't be forced to take a pay cut during their terms in office, so unlike rank and file workers, quite a few of whom make less for a full-time job than the $43,500 legislators make for a part-time one, all the state can do is implore them to voluntarily share the pain.

What's more, some lawmakers have chosen to donate their money to charity rather than giving it back to the state, which does nothing to help close Maryalnd's $2 billion budget gap (and gets them a tax deduction to boot.)

All in all, dragging your feet in giving back the money would seem like terrible politics. But we've been through this before -- legislators set up a similar voluntary pay giveback scheme in the early '90s, the last time the state was furloughing workers, and not everybody gave back the money then, either. Part of the issue is that the state won't release the names of people who do or do not give back the money, so there's no way for voters to hold lawmakers individually accountable unless they're dumb enough to volunteer the info that they're keeping the cash.

Posted by Andy Green at 10:23 AM | | Comments (4)
        

Comments

For starters, doesn't the state fund many of the same charities that legislators gave to? Miller said it isn't fair because legislators can vote on the budget. He controls the Senate so minus the amount of $$ donated to a given charity from what the state gives them. Not rocket science there.

I want to know WHY there is a budget deficit to begin with. It can not be the downturned economy because the spending affordability reports predicted the deficit welll BEFORE the economy tanked. So the state has a balance sheet issue that stretches for years.

Didn't Martin O'Malley promise to solve the deficit problem once and for all with tax hikes? Well, he didnt. He increased spending that has outpaced the increased tax revenues. Toss that together with the economic woes and you have a toxic cocktail.

Maryland needs to take a serious look at formula spending programs that outpace revenue growth: pensions, higher education investments, etc.

For starters, doesn't the state fund many of the same charities that legislators gave to? Miller said it isn't fair because legislators can vote on the budget. He controls the Senate so minus the amount of $$ donated to a given charity from what the state gives them. Not rocket science there.

I want to know WHY there is a budget deficit to begin with. It can not be the downturned economy because the spending affordability reports predicted the deficit welll BEFORE the economy tanked. So the state has a balance sheet issue that stretches for years.

Didn't Martin O'Malley promise to solve the deficit problem once and for all with tax hikes? Well, he didnt. He increased spending that has outpaced the increased tax revenues. Toss that together with the economic woes and you have a toxic cocktail.

Maryland needs to take a serious look at formula spending programs that outpace revenue growth: pensions, higher education investments, etc.

Also, has anyone reviewed www.spending.dbm.maryland.gov? You can review how the state spends money. MAYBE, just maybe, they ought to get out of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, take less conference trips to Wisp Resorts, host less conferences at the DoubleTree Annapolis, etc:
GREATER WASH BOARD OF TRADE 2 Result(s) - $30,000.00
Year Agency Name Amount
2008 MARYLAND AVIATION ADMINISTRATION $27,500.00
2008 DEPT OF BUSINESS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT $2,500.00

COBURN'S CATERING 1 Result(s) - $30,554.75
Year Agency Name Amount
2008 MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION $30,554.75
CLARION RESORT FONTAINEBLEAU HOTEL 4 Result(s) - $33,424.50
Year Agency Name Amount
2008 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE $12,028.50
2008 DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES $8,352.00
2008 MARYLAND STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION $7,632.00
2008 BALTIMORE CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE $5,412.00
WISP RESORT HOTEL 7 Result(s) - $50,838.38
Year Agency Name Amount
2008 STATE HIGHWAY ADMIN $26,020.90
2008 MD DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE $19,198.60
2008 DEPT OF PUBLIC SAFETY & CORRECTIONAL SVC $3,351.68
2008 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE $1,255.00
2008 DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES $634.20
2008 OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS $252.00
2008 DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT $126.00
DOUBLE TREE HOTEL ANNAPOLIS 5 Result(s) - $70,568.14
Year Agency Name Amount
2008 STATE HIGHWAY ADMIN $26,164.50
2008 STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS $18,608.10
2008 MARYLAND STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION $8,786.74
2008 DEPT OF HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT $8,598.60
2008 MDOT THE SECRETARY'S OFFICE $8,410.20

Perhaps the Sun could try a little investigative journalism to uncover the names?

I realize the Sun recieves a million dollar in revenue from the state but that should not prevent the paper from shirking its fourth estate responsibilities, do you agree?

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About the bloggers
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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