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Avoiding Doomsday

By -- March 19, 2012

The budget packet has passed through the senate and now moves to the house for discussion. It will now move to a House committee where delegates will think about what should be done about our $1.1 billion deficit. Key components of this budget package include our first tax increase since 2007, a half millionaire’s tax, an internet sales tax, and an increased tobacco tax.

Maryland democrats aim to close at least half of our $1 billion deficit, while maintaining our investment in education, health care, law enforcement, and many more essential services; not to mention protecting the people who perform these services for us. We cannot allow our government to balance the budget on the backs of our state employees, the backs of our children, and the backs of ourselves. If the House and Senate do not agree on methods of raising revenues, they will have to resort to the so called “doomsday budget” ($720 million in budget cuts). Here are a few of the consequences we will pay:

  • School aid: $204 million cut
  • Local aid (primarily police aid and law enforcement grants): $102 million cut
  • College Affordability: $185 million cut
  • Medicaid: $300 billion cut
  • Stem cell research
  • State employees will not get promised raise for a 2% cost of living increase

The local cuts will hit Prince George’s County the hardest at $77 million, when it already struggles to keep schools funded. It’s not right.

Neil Bergsman, Directory of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute,and member of Moving Maryland Forward Network,  has outlined alternate ways we can handle our deficit without resorting to the doomsday budget, some of which are included in the package recently passed by the senate.

The provisions passed in the senate would allow the state to collect an additional $30 million dollars yearly from the 18,000 Marylanders who report an income of $500,000 or more. Much of this will be allocated for local governments, and several million dollars would be “earmarked for replacing or renovating aging schools.”

We have so many essential services that are in danger of taking budget cuts. It’s important to keep these essential services by employing effective revenue measures. Senator Madaleno said, "Many of our sister states may be going in a different direction right now, but in Maryland we are actually keeping and maintaining our commitment to education." Here’s to hoping he’s right.