O'Malley's experiment with budget cutting by democracy
Gov. Martin O’Malley has spent some time lately with a stack of dog-earned, e-mail printouts from regular citizens suggesting ways he should cut the state budget. He’s going to need help, after all, finding ways to finish closing a shortfall of more than $700 million.
Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz caught up with the governor in Ocean City, where he’s attending a summer conference thrown by the Maryland Association of Counties, and talked to him about the citizen suggestions.
Some themes that he has gleaned: People like the idea of closing state government around the holidays, and they think the practice at some agencies of allowing state employees to take home government-owned vehicles needs to be re-examined. He said those suggestions were repeatedly offered by citizens, who were invited to e-mail him their ideas starting last month.
“I find it interesting and helpful. I’m impressed at the tone most people took,” O’Malley said, adding that he found most to be “sincere.”
“It was quite the exercise in democracy.”
O’Malley also said the exercise has shown him that he needs to better explain to the public how tax dollars are spent. While many of the suggestions might be good ways to make government more effective, many of them would yield only a small savings. The governor plans to propose another $470 million in budget cuts later this month, on top of $280 million already pared from the current fiscal year.
The administration had planned to release the full list of more than 2,500 suggestions today, but postponed the big reveal until tomorrow because of technical difficulties.