OPINION: Tough Decisions for Our Future

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

Yesterday, due to the worsening condition of our national economy, I signed an Executive Order establishing a furlough and salary reduction plan for all State employees. It was not a decision that I took lightly.

Our State employees provide an invaluable public service in our efforts to make our government work again for the people of our State, and in these challenging times, they are increasingly being asked to do more with less.

In my email to all state employees yesterday, I wrote:

"We worked hard to establish a plan that was as fair as possible to you. While this plan is preferable to layoffs and saves the State over $34 million, I know that this will not be easy for many of you and your families. As we face these economic challenges together, please know how much I appreciate the important work you do for the people of our State, and the essential contribution you make to our shared pursuit of progress. Because of you our State government has been able to do more with less, we've been able to reform long-neglected State agencies, and we've been able to reduce spending growth by $2.2 billion without abandoning our priorities."

In addition to announcing the furlough plan yesterday, the Board of Revenue Estimates adopted new projections, estimating that an additional $415 million would need to be cut from this year's budget. In the coming weeks we will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed budget cuts to the Board of Public Works to address the this shortfall for the current fiscal year and a nearly $2 billion shortfall in 2010. This will require more difficult decisions, and more painful cuts as we work to balance the State budget in the worst national recession since the Great Depression.

As Marylanders we've faced difficult days before, and we've always come through together, proving time and again that tough times don't last, tough people do. Indeed, the best days in life aren't always the easiest days. I continue to believe that we will come out of this national recession stronger than ever thanks to the choices we've made together to protect our priorities and quality of life – and because of the character and resilience of our greatest asset: the people of Maryland.

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