State Budget Cuts

It has taken a while for me to get around to commenting about this because it does hit home (literally as it affects my wife’s employment for the University System of Maryland). But as we all know, Maryland is not the only state facing budgetary problems (at least we are in Arizona’s boat yet–they are considering selling their Capital office buildings), but the manner in which cuts are being made make me wonder what the priority is in Annapolis. This story–among many others note that Gov. MOM is suggesting cuts in education, health care and the advertising budget for the Maryland lottery.

Okay the first sentence carries with it a couple of problems that are serious and of concern–but “even the advertising budget for the state lottery.” is the single most important one. At a time when Gov. MOM and the General Assembly have to consider budget cuts in areas of the budget that are, more or less required, i.e. education, to consider keeping ANY of the budget for advertising the state lottery is foolish. Sure cutting $5.5 million from the budget will help, but what is left over?

I don’t know what the budget for lottery advertising is, but if it is more than $1.00 I can tell you it is money wasted right now. I could give a toss if we have a lottery or not, and I am not suggesting we eliminate the lottery. Let’s assume the advertising budget is $2 million for a given year. If the administration is proposing furlough days for state workers, that $2 million could be used to pay some workers so they don’t have to take furlouhg days.

The University System of Maryland, the entire system, has been asked to submit proposed further cuts by the end of the week and a second round by the end of October. Currently on the possible list are more furlough days, pay freezes that would last until 2012 (yes 2012, that is not a typo) and closing facilities. So what happened to the Gov. MOM belief that everyone should be able to get a college education if they want one. If you are closing facilities, making salary decisions for three years, what kind of message is that sending.

Trending: Alan Walden for Mayor of Baltimore

Not on the block, at least right now, is k-12 education. But I have to tell you that such a sacred cow is only safe until after the election. So long as tax collections and other revenues continue to be much lower than expected, O’Malley can’t spend money on educaiton willy-nilly.

We spend far too much on K-12 education, full stop. So if we are talking about cutting higher education, why are we not looking to tighten the belt on K-12 education. Why can’t we find a way to do the job for less money, not just during the emergency, but during the good times as well.

I know that you can’t balance a budget by cutting $5.5 million here and there, you have to make real cuts. But if we are going to be cutting spending on things like K-12 education, higher education, police, health care and public safety, then we need to have cut all the fat and all the unnecessary jobs out there.

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