Franchot talks of 'third way' to approach budget
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says the state's $1.6 billion deficit is another sign that elected officials "have not adjusted to this new age of austerity."
Lawmakers yesterday learned that the budget hole is deepening. After a hopeful uptick in state revenues that posted over the summer, squeezing the gap to about $1.2 billion, spending on programs such as Medicaid has been higher than expected. And state revenues, as they stand now, aren't likely to recover to pre-recession levels anytime soon.
After the briefing by nonpartisan state analysts, Republicans worried the other party will push tax increases, and Democrats feared the minority party's counter offer would be draconian cuts to programs.
Franchot, who did not attend the legislative briefing, said in an interview yesterday afternoon that there's a "third way" -- a top to bottom review of state spending, estimated to surpass $15.5 billion next fiscal year.
Franchot, a Democrat, is a member of the state spending panel that has slashed the budget in the past few years. He has been talking about the "third way" for a year, and blogged about it in July.
"We need to look at what we're really getting for our money," Franchot said yesterday. "I think you could get the same or higher public services with significantly less money."
Asked what agencies or government programs are ripe for squeezing, Franchot said "everything" should be on the table. He named health care and transportation of areas in need of a careful look.