Next year's Assembly urged to work harder More taxes next year, says the governor.

April 05, 1991|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Evening Sun Staff

Next year's Maryland General Assembly will have to work harder and pass more taxes in order to meet the needs of the state that were not addressed during the 1991 session, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said.

State employees also may face layoffs this year because state legislators declined to approve the governor's tax-increase plan, Schaefer said.

"You're in a fairyland down here. You're in a world of unreality," the governor said, referring to the legislature. "The real world is where poor people live . . . where people drop out of school and go to drugs to get money."

Schaefer, speaking to the State House press corps yesterday for the first time in nearly a month, said lawmakers acted timidly when it came to making hard decisions about raising taxes to fund the state's social programs.

Because of that, the governor said, state workers may have to be laid off, and there will not be enough money to help the homeless and the poor.

"It's not going to get better," he said. "It'll only get worse unless something is done to have an infusion of money properly spent."

Schaefer predicted that, because the $11.6 billion budget passed by the legislature includes cuts to every state department, layoffs of state workers are possible. He said his budget experts recently estimated that between 1,200 and 1,700 state jobs could be cut from personnel rolls after the 1992 fiscal year begins July 1.

"I don't like layoffs," Schaefer said. "I don't want to lay anyone off."

Pressed for more details about potential layoffs, Schaefer said the figures include about 240 jobs at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, a state-owned facility for juvenile offenders located in the Cub Hill section of Baltimore County. Because the state plans to turn the facility over to a private firm, the governor acknowledged that the employees would not be put out of work.

"What I'm saying is there's a possibility there will be some layoffs," he said. Many layoffs could be avoided, he added, through a natural pattern of attrition.

Lawmakers disputed the governor's claim, saying cuts they made to the budget should not affect that many jobs. Del. Nancy C. Kopp, D-Montgomery Co., the House speaker pro tem, said layoffs won't become necessary unless department heads decide to cut positions instead of looking elsewhere in their budgets to eliminate costs.

While the legislature has approved a handful of taxes designed to raise about $90 million in additional revenues, Schaefer said the state needs more money. The legislature killed a Schaefer administration bill to raise $800 million in new taxes.

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