Federal Government Shutdown Most Likely Averted – How Will Maryland Be Affected?

On March 17, the Senate approved another short term spending resolution (HJ Res 48) to last through April 8. The measure passed by a vote of 271-158 in the House and then by 87-13 in the Senate. It cuts $6 billion from the federal government’s current budget; a substantial portion of that amount comes from revoking funds that were not needed in 2010.  From the CSAC Bulletin:

Overall, H J Res 48 reduces or terminates a total of 25 programs for a savings of $3.5 billion. Lawmakers also realized savings by canceling congressional earmarks in the fiscal 2010 appropriations bills, including several accounts funded under the Justice and Interior subcommittee jurisdictions. 

Lawmakers are hopeful that this will be the last short term spending resolution for this budget and they are using the next few weeks to debate where the remaining cuts will be made; on the table are cuts to defense, education, environmental protection and other spending. In an interview with Daily Record reporters and editors, US Senator Ben Cardin spoke about what these cuts could mean for Maryland. Cardin believes that a compromise between the Republican-led House of Representatives and President Barack Obama would harm education programs, and could threaten funding for federal facilities and academic institutions that drive Maryland’s high-tech and biotechnology sectors. Cardin spoke further about how the federal budget cuts could affect Maryland:

“NIH is here. NIST is here. NSA is here. FDA is here. We have all the alphabet here, and they’re going to be cut,” Cardin said … “The Republican budget cuts the NIH budget by more than $1 billion. That’s going to have an impact on the state economy and whether we continue to bring the brightest minds into our region, whether our academic centers still maintain their focus.”

Likely to survive the cuts, Cardin said, is the influx of military jobs coming to the state as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Maryland expects to see some 60,000 direct and contractor jobs come to the state from BRAC and up to 15,000 from the U.S. Cyber Command move to Fort Meade.

Cardin cites bay cleanup and transportation as two issues in Maryland that will suffer because of the cuts. He suggests that energy legislation could be a way to fund the transportation shortfall. Cardin also suggests re-evaluating farm subsidies and delving into prime contract abuse as ways to improve Maryland’s economic stamina in the face of the federal cuts. To read the full article from the Daily Record, click here. 

According to the National Association of Counties (NACo), one of the largest priorities for local government officials in Maryland and across the country should be protecting funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs). The grant program is run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and helps local government officials fund affordable housing and anti-poverty programs as well as infrastructure development. It is at risk of being cut by over $2 billion. Other programs facing funding reductions under that resolution are the federal transit program, the high-speed rail initiative, and commuity health center grants. An article in The Hill covered the local government perspective of the federal budget deficit:

[NACo Executive Director Larry Naake] said the budget cuts would only lead to more unemployment during the tough economic times. “The counties are already facing tremendous layoffs. This would just exacerbate the problem and increase unemployment even more in the public sector and lead to reduced services,” Naake said. “Share the pain across the board, not just with domestic programs.”

To read MACo’s prior coverage of the federal budget debate, please click on the following links:

New Funding Extension Introduced to Prevent Federal Government Shutdown (posted 3/15/11)

Congressional Debate on Government Funding and Shutdown Still Ongoing (posted 3/11/11)

Federal Government Shutdown Could Hit Maryland Economy Hard (posted 3/1/11)

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