Senate panels whittle away at budget Baltimore Symphony among the losers

March 01, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Two Senate subcommittees continued to whittle away at the state budget yesterday, scrutinizing expenditures ranging from as little as $600 to as much as $18 million.

The day's casualties included the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, whose grants were reduced by $1 million each.

However, the state's colleges and universities sustained almost no serious cuts as senators examined budgets of various state agencies and departments.

In all, the subcommittees of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee hope to find $170 million to cut from Gov. William Donald Schaefer's $12.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Mr. Schaefer's plan will cost about $700 million more than expected revenue, so lawmakers are trying to work out a package of cuts and taxes to close the gap. Sen. Laurence Levitan, the Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the budget committee, said his goal is to find the $170 million in cuts, reduce local aid by $240 million and make up $440 million with tax increases.

Yesterday, the two subcommittees made several million dollars in cuts but still had found less than half of the $170 million target. No official figures are available, but a running tally indicates less than $70 million has been cut so far.

One potentially large expenditure, $18 million for the state's General Public Assistance program, could not be eliminated because the Department of Human Resources does not know what it will save by restructuring the program, said Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who presided over one of the subcommittees.

"They guessed in coming up with this figure," said Ms. Hoffman, adding that the full committee may be willing to approve the cut anyway.

But her subcommittee, in effect, killed a key part of the Department of Human Resources' restructured assistance program, which aids disabled adults, by cutting money for a loan program budgeted at $3.7 million.

The loans, intended for those disabled for at least three months but less than a year, were expected to have a default rate of 85 percent, according to the department.

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