O'Malley set to roll out budget
Governor's staff briefing labor, legislative leaders in preparation of spending plan's introduction
Union officials are bracing for potential layoffs when Gov. Martin O'Malley unveils his fiscal 2011 budget plan on Tuesday.
"We're not taking anything lightly," said Patrick Moran, director of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. "We think any number of layoffs is going to hurt the services being provided, and we take any layoffs seriously."
The proposal, which O'Malley (D) will make public during a Tuesday afternoon news conference, could include "significant" layoffs, a state employee with knowledge of the budget said last week.
An O'Malley spokesman said Thursday that there would be some "position abolishments," but disagreed that they would be "significant."
Shaun Adamec, another O'Malley spokesman, said Monday that while the administration tries to avoid layoffs, some filled positions are cut "inevitably, through programmatic cuts."
"There will be some positions abolished, like there have been every year," he said. "What you won't see is these massive rounds of layoffs or Draconian practices like 10-percent cuts across the board."
Adamec declined to say whether the budget includes state employee furloughs.
"We'll get to that tomorrow," he said.
The governor plans to brief the General Assembly's presiding officers and budget committee leaders on Tuesday before the news conference.
The budget bill to be introduced in the legislature Wednesday will be under last month's zero-growth recommendation by the bipartisan Spending Affordability Committee, Adamec said.
Moran said the Department of Budget and Management contacted him Friday about an early-week meeting between officials from the O'Malley administration and from labor unions to "discuss ideas and reductions."
The state should consider ways to increase revenues, Moran said. State revenues have lagged behind expectations for much of the past two years during the global economic recession, leaving Maryland with a $2 billion deficit on a budget of about $13 billion.
"This is the same situation we've been in over the last two years, and I think this calls the question of why aren't we talking about revenues in one of the worst economic recessions the state has ever seen," Moran said.
The budget needs to preserve state jobs and not add to unemployment rolls, he said.
The state's unemployment rate reached 7.3 percent in November; the national rate was 10 percent.
"We need to ensure people will be there to deliver services and are not seeking services themselves," Moran said.
So far, budget cuts have been to frontline staff in state agencies, he said.
O'Malley needs to consider cutting middle management and duplicative management positions, he said.