Everyone wants to be a deficit buster
As Marylanders across the state submit hundreds of suggestions for cutting the state budget, someone with particular expertise plans to join the chorus of deficit busters. That’s Del. Norman H. Conway, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who has spent many years plumping the depths of budget minutia.
Conway heard about Gov. Martin O’Malley seeking suggestions from the public at large on how to address a $420 million shortfall in the current fiscal year — and he decided he should heed the call, too. He and members of his committee have met in recent days and hope to compile a list of suggestions — even though they don’t have to help.
Maryland’s system allows the Board of Public Works and the governor to make mid-year cuts without legislative input. And some observers may ask why lawmakers would take the political heat for advocating funding cuts for popular programs or other special interests. Besides, they’ll have to help soon enough when drafting next year’s budget, for which there’s another projected shortfall of more than $1 billion.
But Conway, an Eastern Shore Democrat known as a deliberative wonk, said: “I think we have an obligation.”
Meanwhile, the suggestions from regular citizens continue to flow into O’Malley’s inbox.
The governor, who already has pushed through $280 million in budget cuts toward the total shortfall of $700 million, said this week that he has received 459 pages of suggestions so far.
Among them, according to his press office:
“Why not encourage more telecommuting and working from home for state employees? With Blackberries and laptops issued to many workers, why not encourage certain days of the week to be `work-from-home’ days? The state would save on facility and energy costs and workers would enjoy the flexibility, and maybe even could let go of some of their personal/sick time in exchange.” (Baltimore City)
“Go paperless where possible. Save on paper and postage.” (Baltimore)
“Stop spending so much money on beautifying the median strips along the state highways and let the grass grow longer. Also, eliminate the use of credit cards by state employees. Go back to the old way of having expense accounts that have to be approved.” (Anne Arundel)
If you want to join in, don’t delay — the governor says the deadline for public comment is Aug. 10. Click here to share your suggestions.