Brian Witte/AP Photo
Maryland Board of Public Works, shown in a March 2020 photo, approved a $413 million cut from the 2021 fiscal year budget on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
Brian Witte/AP Photo
Maryland's Board of Public Works approved a $413 million cut from the 2021 fiscal year budget in a 2-1 vote Wednesday.
This comes after Gov. Larry Hogan proposed $672 million in reductions on Friday. Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot agreed to delay more than $200 million in cuts until later this month. The dissenting vote came from state Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who said she preferred to defer all cuts until the board has more information about 2020 revenue numbers and possible stimulus money from Congress.
"I think it would be better to set out the problems and to set out where we are going to have to be looking for cuts," Kopp told the board. "Educate people and get input from the public and then way before January, Mister Comptroller, start doing the cuts in an incremental serious way as we begin to understand what our state fiscal posture is."
Wednesday's cuts included $1.6 million from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, $28 million from WMATA and $131.5 million from higher education.
Hogan stressed to the board members that the "alternative to not taking action" on these cuts is the state laying off 6,350 state employees. He also emphasized that if more cuts aren't made later this month, another 3,157 state employees could lose their jobs.
"I can tell you that I don't like a single one of [the cuts]," Hogan said. "They're all painful and I would not have recommended a single one of these cuts. Frankly, I could never have imagined voting for them."
Franchot said the cuts made were the second largest in the state's history. When the General Assembly reconvenes in Annapolis, they will have to vote on additional cuts.
Following the meeting Wednesday, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said the federal government will need to take action to assist the states.
"I am appreciative that Comptroller Franchot and Treasurer Kopp mitigated the worst of these cuts, and am hopeful that the Board of Public Works can continue to carefully evaluate potential cuts and their effects on Marylanders as they move forward," Ferguson said in a statement.
Opponents of the cuts at the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and labor unions applauded the board for preserving funding for schools and local governments.
"The remaining cuts will not dig as deeply as the package Governor Larry Hogan proposed, but they will still severely damage the health care system for Maryland's most vulnerable, our colleges and universities, and other vital state programs," a spokesperson for MCEP wrote.
President of the Maryland State Education Association Cheryl Bost said in a statement that Hogan's rejection of cuts to school is a "win,—but it's incredibly disappointing that the governor tried this in the first place."
Bost urged the General Assembly to reject further cuts to schools and override Hogan's veto of the new school funding formula.