ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Maryland Board of Public Works has voted to close to $80 million from the state’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget as a way to address less-than-expected revenues.
The board – which includes Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp – voted unanimously on Wednesday to support the cuts.
The cuts come just two days into the new fiscal year and were done in part to help the state address any potential fiscal concerns early, according to T. Eloise Foster, the state’s budget chief.
“While it’s true that nobody wants to be in a position of cutting department budgets in a fiscal year that is less than 48 hours old, I believe that Secretary Foster is being pragmatic in getting out in front of the situation, rather than simply hoping that things will get better and, then, being forced to take even more difficult actions if and when they don’t,” said Franchot in a statement.
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Franchot said in the first quarter of 2014, the United States experienced a 2.9 percent contraction in economic activity, which was the worst quarterly performance since the first quarter of 2009, considered the height of the recession.
The comptroller added that despite what some politicians may say, Maryland is not completely immune to economic issues that could impact the country. He cited that wages in Maryland grew by only 0.4 of a percentage point during the first quarter of 2014. This, at a time when gas prices are soaring to their highest levels in six years, and food prices are surging due to a variety of factors.
“To those who would benefit from a rosier outlook on the national and state economy, stop pretending that we’ve made it through the thicket, because we just haven’t,” said Franchot in a statement.
“And to those who would benefit from saying that the sky is falling in Maryland, and blaming it all on the other party, cut it out. What we’re dealing with is a statewide reflection of a national problem.”