How Would You Balance the State's Budget?

Governor Martin O’Malley: “…the people of Maryland can see, through their own experience, the challenge of balancing a budget...”

BALTIMORE (March 18, 2010). The Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute has updated its on-line “Maryland Budget Game.” State lawmakers in Annapolis have completed their hearings on the budget and are making their final budget decisions. The budget options available to players in the Maryland Budget Game now include proposals actually made by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in his proposed budget, and alternatives suggested by GOP legislators.

For example, players may choose to fund a $5000-per job tax credit for employers, impose furlough days for state employees, or a transfer funds out of a reserve out of local income tax revenues, all features of the Governor’s proposed budget: all features of O’Malley’s budget plan.

“In these tough economic times, maintaining fiscal responsibility has been challenging but necessary for the long-term health of Maryland’s economy,” said Governor O’Malley. “We’re very pleased that the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute and the University of Baltimore have developed this unique tool so the people of Maryland can see, through their own experience, the challenge of balancing a budget, protecting our shared priorities, and maintaining fiscal responsibility in this economic climate.” The Governor’s office has included a link to the game from the Governor’s Internet Homepage.

Players may also require local governments to share the cost of teacher retirement payments, eliminate the Chesapeake Bay 2010 fund, or eliminate 1000 state university jobs and 500 other state jobs, alternatives proposed by Republican lawmakers.

The game includes other options that are pending before the legislature, discussed in the media, or formulated by the Budget and tax Institute’s staff, like raining the alcohol tax by 10 cents a drink, abandoning the Inter-County Connector highway project, or cutting funds for replacement police cruisers.

“’The Maryland Budget Game’ is not ideological,” says Institute director Neil Bergsman, a former state director of budget analysis under Governors Glendening and Ehrlich. “I’d love for other officials and groups to link to the game as well. We tried to include the most talked-about and the most realistic options in the game. Of course it’s simplified so that you can play it in a reasonable amount of time. But I think it gives you a sense of the challenge the Governor and legislators face, regardless of their politics.”

Players assume the role of Maryland’s Governor in making decisions to balance the state budget. Players travel to different locations to view budget options related to different policy areas: the schoolhouse for education, a hospital for health and so on. Based on the player’s decisions, the state’s near-term and long-term budget status improves or deteriorates. At the same time, ten different simulated interest groups react to the players’ every decision.

The Maryland Budget Game was developed by the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute and students in the University of Baltimore’s Applied Information Technology Program. Its purpose is to provide an appealing, interactive way for Marylanders using the Internet to learn about the state budget and the trade-offs that need to be made to achieve a balanced budget.

The game is available on the Internet at This project was made possible through a grant from the Stoneman Family Foundation.

Source: Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute

About the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute

The Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute is a nonpartisan research organization that provides timely, accurate and accessible analysis of state budget and tax issues. In addition to general budget and tax research and analysis, the Institute examines issues affecting low-income Marylanders and other vulnerable populations and the important community programs that serve them. For additional information, to be added to our e-mail list, or to make a tax-deductable contribution, please visit our website at

The Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute gratefully acknowledges the Ford Foundation, which provides financial support for the Institute under its State Fiscal Analysis Initiative. Additional general support for the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute is provided by the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, the Fund for Change, the Moriah Fund, and the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, and generous individual donors.

The Institute is a project of Maryland Nonprofits,

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