By Governor Martin O'Malley
This [Wednesday] morning, the Board of Public Works approved more than $345 million in budget reductions to balance Maryland's Fiscal Year 2009 budget, and prepare for expected shortfalls in FY2010. With today's action, in the first half of the O'Malley-Brown Administration, we have already cut spending by more than $2.2 billion and we have eliminated more than 1,500 state positions.
The cuts we have made today were not easy, as eighty percent of Maryland's State budget is dedicated to public safety, public education and public health. Yet, as our national economy has faltered, states across our country, like families across our nation, are now faced with the hard decisions necessary to balance our state budget in very difficult economic times.
Over the last few weeks, we have asked our State agencies to identify cuts of up to five percent in their budgets, and we will continue to work with them to reduce spending and find efficiencies as we work to address these budget challenges brought about by our national economy.
The unprecedented downturn in our national economy has had far-reaching consequences resulting in our federal government stepping in with a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street. The cuts approved today demonstrate that Maryland is not immune to these effects. But while these cuts were painful, they are undoubtedly less painful than they would have been if we did not act last year to restore fiscal accountability and fiscal responsibility to our state government.
Despite these hard economic times, we've made the tough decisions necessary to protect our shared priorities. For the third straight year, we've held the line on in-state college tuition, making the dream of higher education within reach for more Marylanders. More Maryland students than ever before are moving out of temporary learning shacks and into state-of-the-art classrooms, thanks to an historic investment in school construction and K-12 education. With the passage of the slots referendum in November, and an ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility, we can fulfill our obligation to Maryland's children for years to come.