House GOP Wants $621 Million in Additional Cuts - Southern Maryland Headline News

House GOP Wants $621 Million in Additional Cuts

By David Saleh Rauf

ANNAPOLIS (March 1, 2011) - House Republicans Tuesday shot back at Gov. Martin O'Malley's fiscal 2012 budget proposal, outlining $621 million in additional spending cuts that GOP leaders say will put the state on a path to fiscal stability without raising taxes.

GOP leaders in the lower chamber rolled out the party's alternative budget proposal that includes cuts to stem cell research, legislative scholarship programs and aid for community colleges. The plan also proposes reducing $39.4 million in spending by eliminating $750 bonuses for state employees that are part of a recently negotiated three-year contract agreement.

The biggest cuts, roughly $295 million, come from not funding programs that compensate school districts based on daily attendance and geographic cost.

The spending reductions are part of the Republicans' long-term fiscal plan for the state, said Delegate Gail Bates, R-Howard. Under the plan, state budget growth would be capped at 2 percent in fiscal years 2013 to 2015. It allows for 4 percent growth in fiscal 2016.

O'Malley's budget proposal, which he rolled out in January, calls for nearly $1 billion in spending cuts, and reduces the state's structural deficit by $730 million. That's not enough, Republicans say, and the GOP proposal presented Tuesday could eliminate the remaining $1.2 billion structural deficit by fiscal 2013.

"We are trying to lay out a four- to five-year plan to get us in sound fiscal shape and to resolve our structural deficit and begin to accumulate a fund balance," Bates said.

The GOP's plan also proposes that the General Assembly replenish the Transportation Trust Fund by $500 million between fiscal 2012 and 2016.

In addition to the spending cuts and calls to replenish the transportation fund, Republicans want to roll back the state's sales and corporate income taxes, which were both raised during the 2007 special session.

"That's essential for creating a more business friendly climate," Bates said.

Last year, Republicans called for hundreds of millions in additional cuts to the state budget. The Democratic-controlled House rejected the proposal.

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