By BRADY HOLT
ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 22, 2010) - How much does a budget cost?
In Maryland, the tally comes to at least several million dollars—and possibly much more.
Last year, the state spent $75,000 just to print copies of the governor's proposed budget, said John Pirro Jr., director of the Department of Budget and Management's Division of Finance and Administration.
His department hasn't yet been billed for producing 900 copies of this year's 2,800-page budget document in advance of its release Wednesday, Pirro said, but the cost will probably be similar. The budget is presented as three phonebook-sized volumes and two supplemental booklets.
But the bulk of the budget's cost lies in the dozens of employees the state relies on to help form it.
Salaries for the Office of Budget Analysis's 26 employees are budgeted to reach nearly $2 million in the 2011 fiscal year, and the 12 at the Office of Capital Budgeting run close to $800,000 more, according to pages 537 and 538 of "Budget Volume I." Employees in other offices and departments also dedicate all or some of their time to the budget.
This effort produces the budget that Gov. Martin O'Malley submits to the General Assembly, where lawmakers will likely take a knife to many of its spending proposals. The Board of Public Works can then make further cuts over the course of the year.
O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said in an e-mail he could not identify the specific amount of time employees spent on the budget. "They don't do billable hours like lawyers or psychiatrists," he said.
"It could be argued that 80 percent of the state workforce has some hand in crafting the budget," he said—as each department and office creates and pitches its own requested budget.
With the staff time and other expenses in the offices fully dedicated to forming the budget surpassing $3 million, and some unknown but evidently substantial number of man hours expended on it statewide, one thing is obvious: budgeting is expensive.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.