The Budget Apocalypse

Governor O’Malley pulled out all the stops to campaign for a historic program of tax and spending increases with the specter of a [sfx: screams, scary music] Doomsday Budget.

That’s right, folks, I did say “and spending increases” because the special session will consider expanding state medicaid coverage by $500 million all the while railing against a “structural deficit.”

In a move clearly designed to put pressure on lawmakers, the governor listed $1.7 billion in cuts he would propose if the General Assembly he has called into session next Monday does not pass most of the eight revenue measures he has proposed.

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The plan includes $530 million in cuts to county governments, including freezing Thornton education aid and teacher retirement funding, along with reductions in money for police, open space and community colleges. There would be another drop in funding for Medicaid and foster care.

There are $791 million in cuts to state programs, including a $110 million reduction for university funding, likely to lead to tuition increases, O’Malley said.

It is a typical program of “shut the Washington Monument” approach to the extent that what O’Malley is talking about are actual cuts and not, like the $530 million in county aid, merely slowing the rate of growth.

The data, see the chart up top, produced by the Maryland legislature shows that if current spending were simply frozen most of the deficit would disappear. Now freezing budgets isn’t the best way of addressing this kind of a problem, but neither is creating a new $500 million program and raising taxes that will hurt Marylanders and make Maryland businesses less competitive.

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