Md. budget in the black --but just by a shade Fiscal year closes with tiny surplus

August 29, 1991|By John W. Frece JTC | John W. Frece JTC,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland ended fiscal year 1991 with enough money left over to finance the operations of state government for 2 1/2 minutes, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein reported yesterday.

The unappropriated surplus remaining once the books were officially closed on the budget year that ended June 30 was a measly $55,350 -- "smallest in memory," Mr. Goldstein said.

The surplus is not even equal to half of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's annual $120,000 salary.

According to Mr. Goldstein's spokesman, Marvin Bond, state government spends at a rate of $31.8 million a day, or $1.3 million an hour, $22,110 a minute, or $368 a second. The state finished the year barely in the black only after cutting spending or shifting funds four times, including by $125 million just a week before the budget year ended.

Mr. Goldstein said that the recession caused a drop in consumer spending, which translated into a drop in sales tax revenue below the previous year's collections for the first time since the tax was enacted in 1947.

Sales tax collections for the year totaled $1.541 billion, less than the $1.572 billion collected in the previous year and $24.2 million less than expected.

Income tax revenue also fell due to layoffs, lower withholding payments and higher refunds, he said.

State officials already believe that the state faces a deficit exceeding $300 million in the fiscal year that is barely 2 months old, plus a deficit in the $600 million to $700 million range for next fiscal year.

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