Facing Pandemic-Driven Shortfall, Maryland Leaders Consider Slashing State Budget
Maryland’s Board of Public Works plans to vote Wednesday on more than $672 million in budget cuts. The proposed cuts would affect nearly every part of state government, from schools to healthcare to public safety.
Gov. Larry Hogan called for the cuts to deal with a massive drop in revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several elected officials and labor leaders have said the proposal is premature.
In separate statements to The Baltimore Sun, state Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot — who together with Hogan make up the Board of Public Works — said they plan to oppose a portion of the proposed cuts. A spokeswoman for Kopp suggested the board wait to make cuts until after July 15, when taxes are due and state officials will know how much revenue the state earned in the 2020 fiscal year.
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin also suggested state leaders wait before making cuts.
“We are fighting hard in the United States Senate for additional federal fiscal relief to state and local governments to alleviate budget pressure,” they wrote in a statement.
Cardin and Van Hollen said state leaders could also fill budget gaps with federal funding the state has already received through the CARES Act and with the state’s Rainy Day fund.
Patrick Moran, president of the Maryland branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest state employee union, echoed these suggestions. He said now is the wrong time to cut state jobs and pay.
“You're not going to be able to continue to provide services at a level that people in Maryland are accustomed to if you continue to cut the services and the personnel that are providing essential services during a pandemic,” Moran said.
Together with other actions, such as the sale of some state-owned aircraft, the Hogan administration hopes to come up with $1.45 billion in savings.