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Despite deadline, no details of Hogan's 2 percent spending cuts

Despite deadline, no details of Hogan's 2 percent spending cuts
Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley said agency heads are too busy trimming spending now to project where they'll cut in the next fiscal year, as lawmakers have requested. (Kenneth K. Lam)

The Hogan administration still isn't tipping its hand how it intends to trim spending by 2 percent in every agency next year, despite a request for details from heads of the General Assembly's budget committees.

David R. Brinkley, secretary of budget and management, said that agency and department heads are too busy making similar cuts now in agency spending to think about where they'll make trims for the budget year beginning July 1.

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Former Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered immediate 2 percent across-the-board spending cuts in the waning weeks of his administration after revenues fell short of expectations for this year.

With all those current year cuts not yet made, Brinkley said, he hasn't complied with a Friday deadline given him by the heads of the House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation committees to relate how the administration would trim state spending next year.

"We don't have details, nor do we expect details," Brinkley said before a House budget hearing began Friday.

Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore city Democrat who oversees the House panel, and Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Howard County Democrat who's head of that chamber's budget panel, wrote Brinkley a month ago asking him to spell out how Hogan's proposed 2 percent across-the-board spending cut would affect agency programs, personnel and services. They asked for it by Feb. 27.

Their request came at the suggestion of the legislature's chief budget analyst, Warren Deschenaux, who had warned that leaving those cuts to the Republican administration's discretion would be "very dangerous."

Brinkley, though, said previous Democratic governors have proposed across-the-board cuts in their budgets without detailing them. And he said lawmakers have ordered across-the-board spending cuts in recent years without specifying where to make them.

But McIntosh said not having any idea where the cuts will be made "puts (us) in a box" as lawmakers work to finalize next year's state budget.

"We're very concerned about how thin some of these budgets are," she said, and concerned that any further cuts could jeopardize safety. Of particular concern, she said, is the state prison system - an area where Brinkley separately acknowledged cuts would be particularly hard to make because there are already staffing shortages.

McIntosh said she's determined to maintain legislative oversight over how the cuts are to be made to ensure that safety is not compromised or state workers laid off.

"I'm going to press," McIntosh said, "so we know and can monitor what's happening."

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