Schaefer will submit budget on his last full day

January 17, 1995|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

Like an accountant who works in disappearing ink, Gov. William Donald Schaefer is expected to submit a state budget today that will all but vanish Friday.

In a move State House veterans have described as a first for any governor, Mr. Schaefer will offer a $14.5 billion spending plan to the General Assembly today -- his last full day as Maryland's chief executive.

When Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening submits his budget in three days, it will supersede Mr. Schaefer's. But Schaefer aides say even if his budget is fated to be a footnote, it will at least make a statement.

Apparently Mr. Schaefer's last words are that government should spend $674 million more next year on things such as education, economic development, health, the environment and public safety.

The Schaefer budget would increase spending 7.3 percent, nearly twice what Mr. Glendening is expected to recommend Friday.

"Governor Schaefer is a very compassionate person. He wants to help the disadvantaged, those in suffering and needy," said Charles L. Benton Jr., Mr. Schaefer's budget secretary. "He couldn't be at peace with himself if he didn't do all he could for the people in need."

State employees would get a 2.5 percent cost-of-living wage increase in addition to the standard longevity adjustments under the Schaefer plan. That alone would cost taxpayers an estimated $68 million.

A large share of the increased spending is for programs mandated by the federal or state governments. For instance, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services would get $53.6 million more, but much of that would go to staff new or expanded prisons.

Aides say the new spending that is not mandated is sprinkled across the Schaefer budget. There is more money for programs that benefit the mentally retarded and for local governments, community colleges and gifted and talented student programs.

Maryland Public Television would get $2.5 million for the "Maryland Teleplex," a multimedia classroom that is supposed to connect teachers and students to the information superhighway.

Baltimore City Community College would see a 12.2 percent budget increase, partly to raise faculty salaries.

The budget would finance security guards on light rail and give the Maryland State Arts Council $1.5 million more to dispense to arts programs statewide.

Mr. Benton said he is aware that Mr. Glendening is likely to trim the budget by several hundred million dollars, but he declined to speculate on how the governor-elect might accomplish it. Frederick W. Puddester, a budget adviser to both Mr. Schaefer and Mr. Glendening, said details of the Glendening proposal won't be released until Friday.

Mr. Benton said his staff has worked "like beavers" to get the two budgets written. He said the added cost of producing two budgets has been negligible. The voluminous budget books, the line-by-line descriptions of all state spending, are being prepared only for Mr. Glendening's spending plan.

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