Geared for rocky fiscal times

Budgetary concerns: State and local governments must continue guarding against shortfalls.

October 27, 2001

LONG BEFORE the terrorist attacks, state and local governments were starting to feel a disturbing economic pinch.

Revenue isn't flowing into state, city and county coffers like it did in the late '90s.

It's too early to tell how much things have slowed.

Revenue figures for the first three months of the fiscal year won't be known until sometime next month.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening should already regret the excessive spending in his budget for the current fiscal year.

Signs abounded months ago that the streak of budget surpluses - which poured record amounts into school construction as well as road, parks and farmland preservation - was grinding to a halt.

But the governor and county executives are now taking the right steps to prepare for tougher budgetary times.

Recently, Mr. Glendening announced $205 million in cost-cutting measures - imposing a hiring freeze for most jobs, freezing construction projects and ordering all state agencies to reduce their budgets by 1.5 percent.

That came a week after Howard County Executive James N. Robey ordered his department heads to reserve 5 percent to 10 percent of their budgets to help the county balance its books for the fiscal year ending next June.

Budget officials will have to closely monitor revenue figures and advise deeper cuts if the picture gets even worse.

Citizens will need governments to adjust their spending wisely to weather this rocky economic period.

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