Ellen R. Sauerbrey, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, vowed yesterday to slash $1.3 billion from the state budget over four years while also providing modest tax relief to families.
Mrs. Sauerbrey, a state delegate from Baltimore County, said she would change the personal exemption for Maryland taxpayers so a family of four would pay $60 less in state and local income taxes.
At a news conference in Annapolis, she said her goal is to raise the personal exemption from the current $1,200 to $1,450 by Jan. 1, 1996.
At the same time, she would slash away at a state budget that will be awash in red ink as early as next year, she said.
Despite repeated budget cuts during the recent recession, Maryland's state budget continues to grow at a faster rate than ** tax revenues. The growth is fueled in part by increases in the cost of providing schools for children, prisons for criminals, and medical and nursing home care for the sick and elderly.
Mrs. Sauerbrey said she would leave education spending alone and increase funds for prisons and public safety.
However, she proposed substantial cuts in other areas.
She would save $612 million, she said, by freezing the growth in government jobs -- except in prisons -- and would make $289 million in unspecified cuts in state agencies and operating expenses.
She also said she would save $146 million by reducing travel expenses and equipment purchases, eliminating some jobs as they become vacant, and abolishing 400 of the more than 3,000 positions that are now vacant.
Her plan would eliminate automatic increases in welfare to women with children and control other costs, saving $151 million, she said.
She said she would consider fingerprinting welfare recipients to prevent fraud and removing convicted drug dealers and violent criminals from welfare rolls.
Mrs. Sauerbrey called on U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who is considered the Republican front runner for governor, to debate her on budget issues or develop her own fiscal plan.
Mrs. Bentley won't come out of the tall grass she's hiding in," Mrs. Sauerbrey said.
Key Kidder, a campaign spokesman for Mrs. Bentley, declined to comment yesterday.
"Mrs. Bentley will release the particulars of her plan to tackle the structural deficit in due course," he said.
The other Republican seeking the nomination for governor, William S. Shepard, said the budget plan he proposed in May is better than Mrs. Sauerbrey's.
He said Mrs. Sauerbrey approaches the budget like an accountant rather than a leader and policy maker.
lTC "She looks at things from the standpoint of a green eyeshade -- an accountant. I look at it from a policy standpoint," Mr. Shepard said.