Sun gets it wrong on budget cuts

March 17, 2010

Neither the headline nor the content of your article "Talk of budget cuts escalates" (March 12) accurately reflects the progress of budget talks underway in the legislature. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the situation as it currently stands.

Our process reflects a consensus-driven approach, led by the governor, which includes members of both political parties. The House and Senate held a joint hearing to consider ideas from the minority party, and the governor met with Republican leaders to discuss their proposals. The process has been more inclusive than any in recent memory. That's a tribute to Gov. Martin O'Malley's commitment to working with people regardless of ideology or political affiliation to get results for the citizens of Maryland.

Governor O'Malley eliminated the state's deficit in the current fiscal year by cutting $1 billion through the Board of Public Works before the current General Assembly session and by introducing a budget with an additional $1 billion in cuts. As introduced, his budget was below the legislature's spending affordability guidelines -- the fourth time that this governor has come in under this benchmark, and a remarkable achievement in the current economic climate.

This governor's commitment to fiscal discipline is beyond question. Working together, we have cut over $5.5 billion in spending and eliminated more than 3,500 positions under his leadership. He has reduced state spending by 3 percent over his first term in office, compared to 30 percent growth during his predecessor's tenure.

All of these actions have positioned Maryland as one of the most fiscally responsible states in the nation. We will continue to work with Governor O'Malley and members of the minority party to reach consensus on a fiscally responsible budget that protects our shared priorities -- like job creation, public education and public safety.

Sen. Ulysses Currie, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, is chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

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