Readers Speak Out On State Employee Layoffs

SPEAK OUT

January 23, 2009

Having been involved in layoffs several times, I understand the anxiety and financial pain that go with the layoff notices the governor may be sending hundreds of state employees ("Painful cuts for budget balance," Jan. 22).

But I worked for the private sector, and the layoffs were the result of downturns in the business of the company I worked for. There is no such downturn in the business of the state of Maryland. In fact, during times of recession, more is demanded from government services. And we all know that any layoff of government employees will adversely affect many services to the citizens of Maryland.

But by law, the state budget must be balanced. So what can be done to balance the budget that would not involve layoffs of hardworking state employees and would sustain the level of service Maryland taxpayers demand?

I see the solution as simple: a temporary wage cut for all levels of state, city and county employees.

The wage cut should be based on a percentage of the government employee's wages. The higher the income, the higher the percentage of his or her wage that would be cut.

And here is another suggestion: Every contractor now doing business with the state should take a percentage cut in the value of the contract they are now working under.

If they refuse, well, memories can be long when these contractors seek additional work from the state.

Come on, Gov. Martin O'Malley, the citizens of Maryland hired you to think out of the box. So start doing so

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace

Gov. Martin O'Malley's threat to lay off hundreds of state employees to deal with the budget deficit shows a callous disregard for those who might be losing their jobs in this time of economic crisis.

The unemployment rate nationally has already topped 7 percent. Adding to that number would only mean longer lines for unemployment compensation (and add to state deficits), more people applying for food stamps or visiting already struggling food pantries. And some of these state employees might be on the verge of losing their homes. There must be a better way.

How about a shorter work week for all 70,000 state employees? Shaving two or four hours off everybody's payday would be better than putting hundreds of people permanently out of work.

And when the crisis is over, their pay could be restored.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller should stand his ground on this issue.

William Wilson, Shady Side

Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to lay off hundreds of state employees to help achieve the required state balanced budget does not make sense during an economic recession that includes a high unemployment rate.

It will only worsen the unemployment problem and put new stress on state programs designed to aid those out of work.

A better course of action would be to repeal the law that requires Maryland to have a balanced budget.

Many economists believe that during times of economic slowdown, it is good policy for a government to run a deficit.

Deficit spending by a government can actually help to improve the economy. And a balanced budget will do no one any good if it only increases the ranks of the unemployed.

John Tully, Baltimore

My thoughts and prayers go out to those state workers facing the prospect of being laid off.

These are extremely tough economic times, and I am sure our leaders in Annapolis who are working feverishly to reduce government spending don't enjoy the grim task of letting these people go. But if such dire measures need to be enforced to keep our state government operating, then so be it.

Perhaps, though, we can offer some consolation to those who must begin to look for work elsewhere.

Let's bring them into the State House and deliver their pink slips on the brand-new carpet that is part of the lavish $10 million State House renovation project that was just completed.

Patrick Wallis, Bel Air

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