State worker layoffs could be back on the table
The word from Annapolis is that the revenue projections the state is set to adopt tomorrow could reflect a new $450 million hole in Maryland's finances, a dent so significant that it could overwhelm the help the state is expecting from the federal stimulus bill.
The O'Malley administration is saying it is still formulating a plan to cope with the steadily worsening economy and that employee layoffs could be back on the table. So could a reversal of the University System tuition freeze that O'Malley has worked to maintain.
House Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller say they'll fight any state worker layoffs, but it's hard to know where they'll come up with enough cuts to fill so large a gap. In a further ominous sign for state workers, the Department of Legislative Services is floating a proposal for 1 percent pay cuts for all government employees. The senate Republican caucus yesterday pounced on the bad news in an e-mail:
At budget and personnel briefings before the Senate Budget and Tax Committee today, the administration admitted that the state revenue decline expected to be announced tomorrow will be much worse than anticipated by O'Malley's chief budget advisors.
So state employees are whip-lashed by conflicting O'Malley personnel
policies: the administration's SB 264 will require employees to pay mandatory union fees (from $243 to $513 per year) out of their own pockets at the same time that they face salary decreases/furloughs and increased benefit costs through the administration's measures to balance the budget.
We'll post more details as we get them, but suffice it to say, state workers who have already been forced to take at least two furlough days aren't out of the woods yet.