Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

$1.7 B MD Structural deficit replaced with $2 B shortfall?

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gov. O’Malley has released his 2010 budget (2010 Maryland Budget Highlights) that increases state spending by at least $709 million dollars.   We were told in 2007 that Maryland had a $1.7 billion structural deficit that would be fixed by increasing taxes and having slot machines.  Now, we are told that we face a $2 billion dollar deficit, even after making painful cuts

Just as our families face the very real challenge of doing more with less, so too must those of us in government.  By necessity, the budget we are presenting today is unprecedentedly lean. It closes our projected $2 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2010 at a time when we’ve already enacted $2.2 billion in painful spending reductions. In addition, it eliminates hundreds of State positions on top of the 1,500 jobs we’ve already eliminated.

Spending reductions? From the same report  (in millions):

  • 2008   29,569
  • 2009  30,853
  • 2010  31,562 (proposed)

So where is the 2.2 billion in reductions?  Spending from 2009 to 2010 is proposed to increase by $709 million and $1,993 million since 2008.

According to the Spending Affordability Committee 2008 Interim Report released in December, the state of Maryland had 81,582 positions in 2008 and this was reduced to 81,247 positions in 2009.  A reduction of 335 positions (0.41%).  But wait:

Despite the decline in the number of authorized positions, the committee notes that, exclusive of higher education, there are currently more than 3,340 vacant Executive Branch positions, approximately 523 of which are funded, in the 2009 budget.  The higher number of funded vacant positions suggests that many additional workforce needs may be addressed through full utilization and reallocation of existing resources.

Are the “hundreds” of positions Gov. O’Malley claims will be eliminated really just not filling these 543 funded positions? The SAC recommends a position cap of 80,247, which if my math is correct would still enable the state to add 2340 employees.

Adding 2K+ employees is not a cut.  Adding more than $700 million in spending is not a reduction.

If you have ever wondered how we’ve gotten into this mess, a  good history of the State budget system and the Spending Affordability Committee was released by the Cecilia Januszkiewicz and the Free State Foundation in December, Structural Solutions for Maryland’s Structural Deficit: Pathways to Reform, but this may be a topic for a future post.

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