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Some state budget cut suggetions

Gov. O'Malley has an

where citizens can suggest ways for the state to save money and cut the $700 million deficit.

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We have three modest suggestions:

1. Cancel or renegotiate the state's motor-fuel management contract with Commercial Fuel Systems, the company that has held it, on a virtual no-bid basis, for 20 years. As

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CP

, Commercial Fuel's unique contract costs the state at least five cents per gallon more than comparable contracts that are competitively bid. Those pennies add up to at least half a million dollars per year the state could be saving. Even more could be saved through a simple audit of fuel use by government agencies.

2. Run a computer match to find everyone who has listed at least two Maryland homes as their "principle residence," and send out the appropriate tax bills. In these times of foreclosure and mortgage fraud, it's unlikely this ploy would yield as much today as it might have raised in, say, 2006, but it's still worth doing-if only to restore some respect for the law.

3. Bid-out the contract held by Meridian Management Group, the state's private, no-bid facilitator of minority business financing. As

CP

, MMG is paid at least $1.3 million to run a state loan fund that loses about $750,000 each year, and the company's two "venture capital" funds are unique in all the world for their ability to funnel state money into the pockets of MMG's principals, while spreading millions among what appear to be politically connected-and sometimes questionable-businesses. MMG's political clout has been all but unchallenged for two decades, but it does appear that millions of taxpayer dollars might be better directed by more conscientious-and better monitored-stewards.

Taken together, these three actions would probably net only two to five million dollars a year. But they would also send a message to citizens who "play by the rules" that, henceforth, the rules will not be quite as rigged in favor of scofflaws and political insiders.

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