During a press conference yesterday, Governor-Elect Hogan discussed the State’s fiscal outlook and gave his fiscal team 10 days to develop a plan to eliminate the $300 million deficit in the current 2015 fiscal year, and close the $600 million shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,
Hogan, citing the same financial numbers released by legislative analysts last month, decried a $1 billion structural deficit expected for next year and promised not to use the “gimmicks” he said his predecessor employed to balance the budget.
“The tough decisions have not been made, and the wrong decisions have been made for far too long,” Hogan told reporters in Annapolis.
“Let me put it into simple everyday terms: We have drained our checking and savings accounts, maxed out every credit card. We tapped into the Christmas fund, the college tuition funds, and we even broke into every one of the kids’ piggy banks. We are going to have to make some very difficult choices, because state government cannot continue to spend more than it takes in.”
The Administration and key members of the General Assembly do not agree with this assessment. As reported by the Washington Post,
In a statement Thursday night, O’Malley chief of staff John R. Griffin said O’Malley’s administration had “done more to constrain spending than any administration in recent Maryland history.”
“We’ve also invested in key priorities — education, innovation and infrastructure — and still we’re one of only seven states to maintain a AAA bond rating throughout the recession,” Griffin said.
Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) said that while the state faces fiscal challenges, he thinks Hogan is “overdramatizing” the difficulty he and lawmakers will have balancing the budget.
Governor-Elect Hogan’s budget adviser also spoke during the press conference mentioning areas to be examined for potential savings.
Robert Neall, Hogan’s fiscal adviser, accompanied Hogan on Thursday and said his team would look for ways to “rebase every major expense” in government in order to trim spending. He said the process could look at funding for colleges and Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor.
Neall also said that public debt has far outpaced the property taxes that normally repay it, and if the trends continue, state government would not even have enough money to buy pencils.