House GOP asks $143 million in cuts STATE HOUSE REPORT


House Republicans yesterday called for $143 million in cuts from the governor's proposed budget, including reductions in Medicaid and prevention programs and 1,000 state jobs that the GOP says are vacant.

"We believe that the state needs to learn to live within our means," said House Minority Leader Ellen R. Sauerbrey of Baltimore County, flanked by members of the Republican Caucus at a news conference.

"We've got a budget before us we can't afford," she said.

The largest proposed cut, $37 million, would come from Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled. Caucus members contended the money could be saved because the state has overestimated the number of people enrolled in the program.

The caucus also said that 1,000 state positions could be trimmed from the budget, calling it a "modest goal" and leaving it to the Schaefer administration to pinpoint the agencies to lose the slots.

Another $10 million would come from Maryland's Tomorrow, a dropout-prevention program. The caucus said a state analysis found there was little difference in the dropout rate between students in the program and those who do not take part.

The caucus came up with another 15 cuts, ranging from a $6 million reduction in welfare spending to a $3.6 million cut for the state Arts Council. Another $4.2 million would be cut from local health programs aimed, in part, at preventing cancer and the spread of AIDS.

The Republican proposal comes on the heels of comments by House and Senate Democratic leaders -- who, as members of the majority party, have far more influence -- that they will cut at least $100 million from the governor's budget, including $45 million in local aid.

But the governor's deputy budget secretary, Frederick W. Puddester, dismissed the GOP proposals as ill-considered, especially those targeting prevention programs.

Mr. Puddester said cutting 1,000 jobs would actually mean layoffs. And he termed the caucus' Medicaid calculations "primitive," noting the Department of Fiscal Services has suggested that just $7 million can be saved there.

The Republicans noted that their proposed cuts are less than half the $300 million in increased state spending that Gov. William Donald Schaefer is proposing for next year. The governor's budget for 1994 is $12.7 billion.

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