Tough budget choices by Mayor Dixon
Here's one big difference between state and local government. When the state makes cuts, they often affect a small group of people deeply but are abstract for most others. If, say, the state furloughs government workers, it hurts them a lot, but the 5.1 million other Marylanders can go on with their lives with little interruption. If tuition goes up, it hurts people with kids in college, but everybody else can ignore it if they want.
But the cuts Mayor Sheila Dixon proposed in her budget today will affect just about everybody in Baltimore. Water rates would go up. Trash collection in the city would go down to once a week (compensated for, somewhat, but increased recycling pickup). Libraries would be open fewer hours. Swimming pools would close. Recreation centers would cut hours or close altogether. People tend to focus more on national or state politics, but local government is unmatched in terms of offering direct services that people use every day, and mayors don't have anyone else to pass the buck to.
It will be interesting to see what kind of pushback, if any, Dixon gets on her proposal. In previous years, the City Council has more or less rubber stamped her budgets. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a much stronger reaction this time, if not from the council then from people who find services they've long relied on suddenly gone.