Gov. Larry Hogan's administration has identified about $82 million in cuts and take-backs to help address Maryland's budget shortfall.
The governor's budget secretary, David Brinkley, said Friday that the cuts will be brought to the Board of Public Works next week to start filling a current-year budget hole of between $175 million and $250 million.
The powerful board, comprised of Hogan, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, can cut up to 25 percent of the budget by majority vote, without approval of the legislature.
As required by law, the legislature passed a balanced budget totaling about $42 billion ahead of the fiscal year that began July 1. But the latest shortfall began to appear less than three months into the fiscal year as income tax revenues came in lower than expected. The challenge is partly due to Maryland's outsized share of wealthy people, whose income taxes can be hard to predict.
The proposed cuts include:
- $20 million to Medicare, to be offset by cigarette restitution funds.
- $18 million to the University System of Maryland, including the abolition of 60 vacant positions and 41 filled positions.
- $9 million to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, reflecting less need for per diem funding for youth and residential placements.
- $7 million to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
- $4 million to the Sellinger Program for independent, nonprofit colleges.
- $4 million in grants to local governments.
There also will be about $20 million in other budget-balancing actions, including requests for state agencies to return money they haven't spent yet.
The legislature's chief budget analyst, Warren Deschenaux, told lawmakers this week that the state also is facing a projected $486 million shortfall in the next fiscal year for the budget they'll work on in their next session, starting in January. He said they have to ``get real'' about fundamentally changing the process to avoid having to address hundreds of millions of dollars in shortfalls each year.
He compared it to ``Groundhog Day,'' the Bill Murray film about a jaded weatherman, forced to relieve the same day over and over again.
``Just like Bill Murray, the state of Maryland will not get out of its Groundhog Day until we actually reach down inside and change ourselves,'' Brinkley said.