Board approves $50 million in state budget cuts

January 02, 1991|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Evening Sun Staff

At the request of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, the state Board of Public Works today trimmed more than $50 million from the state budget, reducing aid to local governments and eliminating the jobs of 45 government workers.

Thirty-six meat and poultry inspectors and nine computer workers will be out of a job, while several vacant positions will be eliminated. The federal government is expected to pick up the meat and poultry inspection program, however.

The Board of Public Works, which includes the governor, comptroller and treasurer, approved the cuts as part of Schaefer's plan to reduce the projected budget deficit.

Schaefer last Friday proposed to slash $243 million from the state budget by reducing nearly every state agency's budget. His package includes deep cuts for higher education and construction projects, such as a golf course in Western Maryland and beach replenishment in Ocean City.

Budget analysts said the proposals will bring state spending down sharply without eliminating a large number of state jobs. Several weeks ago, Schaefer had proposed laying off some 1,800 state workers. However, he later reversed himself under political pressure and said he would try to cut the deficit without massive layoffs, for now.

Besides the $52.7 million cut today, the 1991 General Assembly will be asked to approve almost $190 million worth of cuts to reach the $242.6 million goal, said Charles L. Benton Jr., the governor's chief budget expert.

State legislative leaders have pledged their cooperation toward meeting that goal, Benton said.

The governor and Benton today emphasized that the state and national economic downturn led to Maryland's projected budget deficit of $423 million. In November, Schaefer reduced state spending by $176 million.

Schaefer said he was "amazed" by the outcry from community colleges, which will feel $6.1 million in cuts. Those cuts are part of a $15.6 million reduction in state aid to every Maryland county and Baltimore for libraries, community colleges, police and other grants.

Schaefer called the cuts in local aid "slight" in comparison with reductions in other areas. Benton said those cuts represent less than 1 percent of the state's total aid to local jurisdictions.

Schaefer said he tried to look at the effect the cuts would have on Marylanders. "No one wants to hurt people. This is just the beginning," he said.

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