Lawmakers to O'Malley: Zero increase to state budget
Lawmakers told Gov. Martin O'Malley that he shouldn't increase spending next year by one penny. The Spending Affordability Committee, a bipartisan panel, held a late-night session to recommend a flat state budget. That includes the funding that the General Assembly controls, excluding federal funds.
The panel's recommendations are not binding, but their decision sends a strong signal to the governor. A budget from O'Malley won't be unveiled until next month, and officials already have said it would follow the panel's guidance. Republicans, however, think the committee should have recommended a far more austere budget plan. Their proposal failed on a party-line vote.
Meanwhile, is more federal help on the way? Congress has yet to decide. For our coverage of that and the budget, read below:
Md. urges more U.S. aid
Revenue projections falling more slowly as economy turns
Even as the fiscal picture in Maryland brightens, Gov. Martin O'Malley called on the federal government Wednesday to provide more help to states that are laboring to keep their budgets balanced.
The governor's plea came as state analysts announced that Maryland's revenue projections have fallen $77 million more for the current fiscal year and the next. While that means O'Malley will have less money for next year's budget, which he will present to the General Assembly in January, the decline was far less precipitous than previous Maryland revenue adjustments during the recession.
State officials said the projections from the Board of Revenue Estimates indicate that an economic turnaround is under way. "Maryland's revenues appear to be stable, and it looks as if we are at least beginning down the road to recovery," said state Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster.
Nonetheless, O'Malley warned that as the state confronts a projected $2 billion budget shortfall next year, it could "add to the unemployment woes" if the federal government does not provide more stimulus money. His remarks come as Congress debates measures that would extend Medicaid funds to states straining under the rising cost of the health care program for the poor.
"We really need additional help from Washington," O'Malley, a Democrat, told reporters in Annapolis.
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