Politics as usual on state budget numbers [Letter]

September 29, 2014

Having spent 47 years in state and local government, I have a pretty good feel for impending fiscal year budget problems ("Apocalypse? Not now," Sept. 26). The very quietly issued projections for the next fiscal year for the state budget are concerning. That the state has already, also very quietly, issued a one month moratorium on new hires, from October 15th through November 15th, gives even greater concern. Usually, such steps are precursors to much more stringent budget restrictions in the ensuing fiscal year; including freezes on state hiring and scheduled pay raises and step increases for state employees. For the third straight year, the promised enhanced contributions to the state pension program look unlikely. The current administration has already drawn down state reserves in areas like the transportation fund, pension contributions, and environmental programs, and there is little such funding available to throw at any looming deficit. Questions arise regarding what services will be cut and from where state government will take money to cover a large deficit — education, the environment, state employee and teacher retirement plans, roads and highways?

Such developments should be big news for citizens, with the dialogue on the above questions opened for us by our print media. Yet we hear nothing about this potential fiscal problem. The failure of the O'Malley administration to present the facts of the case is to be expected. Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown needs all the protection he can get in the upcoming election, and Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to make sure his economic policies do not become fodder when he presents himself nationally. Such political maneuvering and cover-up by office holders is no surprise and comes under "politics as usual."

The disgrace in the matter would be if The Baltimore Sun is complicit in not seeking and presenting all of the issues surrounding the state budget. Has The Sun decided to partake in the protection of gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, and therefore withhold research and information until after the election? Could this occur at a publication that preaches that voters should be informed and active citizens? Perhaps this is except when the "informed" part may be contrary to the candidate The Sun favors.

I suspect that, were Bob Ehrlich or any other Republican incumbent running for re-election, The Sun would be all over every single state budget woe it could find, representing a very discouraging double standard. As citizens, we can unfortunately expect "politics as usual" from our elected officials. How sad if we have to see the news media that should be helping us make informed decisions not actively putting all relevant information before us and placing political preference above impartial reporting.

Ronald P. Boone, Timonium

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