Monday, February 01, 2010

Dems Call GOP Bluff on Budget

Maryland Republican legislators have been yapping up a storm about Governor O’Malley’s budget proposal, which relies almost as much on one-time transfers as it does on cuts to achieve balance for the year. So the Democratic budget chairs replied, “You don’t like it? OK, guys – you deal with it!”

The Governor’s FY11 budget proposal proposes $913 million in transfers and $1.014 billion in cuts to resolve a $1.95 billion deficit. That continues what has become an annual tradition of using band-aids to deal with current deficits and postponing more lasting fixes until next year or beyond. The Gazette carried quotes from the Republican leaders in each chamber of the General Assembly who complained about the practice:

House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) of Lusby called that method of budgeting unwise.

“We’ve got to stop taking their money from them and do the spending reductions that we need to do,” he said. Republicans got a separate briefing from the governor.

Miller and Busch have said the legislature will not pass any tax increases in 2010, an election year. Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Dist. 9) of West Friendship raised the specter of future tax increases.

“They’re going to borrow and beg and steal from fund balances to do whatever they can to get through this year, and you and I and all the citizens of Maryland are going to get socked next year,” he said.
So the Chairs of the two budget committees – Senator Ulysses Currie and Delegate Norm Conway – sent a letter to Kittleman and O’Donnell, noting that GOP legislators had voted for $2.5 billion in spending cuts in the Spending Affordability Committee. Currie and Conway want to know where the GOP would find these cuts. We reprint the letter below.

The GOP does not have an easy task. Eighty-five percent of the $13.2 billion general fund (which is smaller than in former Governor Ehrlich’s last year in office) goes to education, health and public safety. It is virtually impossible to implement large budget cuts without touching those items.

So to be consistent with their statements and record, the Republicans would have to run on a platform of cutting schools, health care and police. Good luck with that!