State layoffs, job cuts unavoidable, Dixon says

January 08, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Layoffs of state workers and cuts in the biggest departments will be unavoidable results of the coming legislative session, Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, told a group of farm and business leaders.

Delegate Dixon was the guest speaker at the annual Agribusiness Club legislative breakfast yesterday at Baugher's Restaurant in Westminster.

The club -- made up of farmers, business people and local government officials -- holds a meeting every January with a local delegate as a guest speaker, said Robert Shirley, an agent for the University of Maryland Extension Service.

The meeting is in anticipation of the General Assembly session that will begin Wednesday and last 90 days.

"It is always our largest-attended meeting," Mr. Shirley said.

Yesterday's breakfast drew about 70 people, he said. "The room was packed."

He said Mr. Dixon's speech was well received because he spoke so plainly about the complex financial problems of the state.

"He did a super job, and we all understood what he was talking about," he said.

Mr. Dixon told the gathering that cuts made so far are inadequate to fix the budget problems and that proposals such as merging the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture would not make a difference.

"These two departments comprise about 2 percent of the state budget," he said.

"Transportation is 20 percent, education is 33 percent, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is 18 percent.

"We have to go where the big money is. We have to make the severe cuts in the budget," he said.

"We don't have any choice, in my opinion. The revenues are not there."

He said the cutting of 3,000 state jobs that were vacant and the layoff of another 1,400 people are not enough of a reduction of the state's approximately 72,000 employees.

But he told the farmers he expects the General Assembly to agree to authorize the sale of some bonds this year to buy and preserve agricultural land, as it has done in the past.

The land-preservation program allows farmers to sell the development rights over some land to the state and to continue farming it.

The sale permits the use of the land for producing crops but removes the temptation to sell to developers.

Although the legislature decides how much money to authorize for the bonds, the state Board of Public Works, chaired by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, decides which land is bought.

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