Cumberland Times-News

Columns

July 6, 2014

Forced to act

Budget cuts appear to be proof Maryland still hurting

Even with a revenue stream of never-ending escalation of taxes and fees — along with what the O’Malley administration has been contending is a growing state economy — the Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday found itself forced to cut state government spending. The budget cuts — which were able to be made by the Board of Public Works because state legislators are not in session — amount to $77 million. The state’s general fund budget is slightly more than $16 billion.



The board’s action will eliminate 61 vacant positions in state agencies, including 36 within the University System of Maryland and 12 within the Department of Juvenile Services. The spending reduction also will affect areas such as training, equipment and vehicle maintenance in the Department of Natural Resources.



For state employees, the good news is that only vacant positions will be affected.



Comptroller Peter Franchot, who voted for the cuts along with the other two board members, Gov. Martin O’Malley and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, said the move was the correct course of action because of nationwide economic conditions. “Here are the facts, backed up by cold hard numbers. The nation’s economy is literally stagnant now or contracting. And so is that of the state of Maryland,” Franchot said.



A rebound from the economy has not been felt in Western Maryland. These budget cuts also appear to be proof that Maryland as a whole continues to feel the after-effects of the recession.



The state should continue to closely scrutinize all spending. Certainly, vacant positions should go unfilled until things improve.



Cutting spending — not looking for more ways to tax citizens — should be the strategy for dealing with these sluggish economic times.

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