O'Malley budget could make over government
Official: We are crossing our fingers' that hundreds of millions in write-downs at end
When Gov. Martin O'Malley unveils his fiscal 2011 spending plan on Jan. 20, the massive document is likely to include elements of a state government makeover.
"The budget will have reorganization and restructurings," said Shaun Adamec, an O'Malley (D) spokesman.
You know the budget must be in dire straits if the O'Malley administration is looking for Ehrlich-era ideas.
In December, Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster said she asked state agencies to review the recommendations of a commission that looked at restructuring state government during the term of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). She wanted the departments to see if any of the ideas of the so-called Mandel Commission had merit now.
Sen. David R. Brinkley, who serves on the Budget and Taxation Committee, said Monday that he had asked the legislature's analysts for a list of overlap among state departments in an effort to consolidate and possibly eliminate some department secretaries.
"I'm pursuing that on my own. If the governor has some inclination in that regard, I'm optimistic we can work together," said Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market.
Adamec said the administration is hoping the series of revenue write-downs will come to an end. The next revenue projection will come in March, during the 2010 session. If revenues appear to be on the rise, O'Malley could propose supplemental budget, boosting spending on programs.
"If it is in fact a trend, we are crossing our fingers that the days of the write-downs in the hundreds of millions of dollars are over," Adamec said.
Brinkley thought he could be right. But the spending plan must assume that the state is still in the depths of an economic downturn.
"Last year that would have been the prudent strategy, and this year it should be the bare minimum," he said.