Republican J. Glenn Beall Jr. promised yesterday to use seven different methods to cut the growth of state government if he is elected governor of Maryland.
Half his proposals already are being implemented or have been recommended, but Beall said his plans would result in an estimated savings of $233 million over the next three years.
His figures were verified by state officials who have made similar recommendation for cutting state spending.
The bulk of the savings would come from a $230 million reduction of the state debt through two cuts proposed last month by a state study committee.
Beall said he would limit the state's new debts to $125 million each year, for a savings of $80 million, and that he would reduce the current authorized but as yet unissued bonded indebtedness by 10 percent, for a savings of $150 million.
Those are "essentially the conclusion of our Capital Debt Management Committee report," said Thomas N. Schmidt, the state secretary of budget and fiscal planning. The report was issued last month.
In addition, Beall proposed annual program evaluations by the budget department, job freezes, long-range budget planning, public hearings on the state budget, and a "modified zero-base budgeting approach" as well as the state debt reduction.
"The thrust of these proposals is to limit the growth of state government to less than the growth of the cost of living," Beall said.
Beall also said he wanted to expand the sunset laws, under which a state board or commission must end after a certain number of years unless it can prove its continued value. The state legislature has passed a sunset law that covers 62 of the state's 300 boards and commissions. Beall would like to see every one come under sunset laws.
The main thrusts of the proposals Beall made yesterday were to control the budget more carefully and reduce the state bureaucracy, which now employs over 75,000 people.
Two of three methods Beall proposed for reducing the number of state employes are already in effect. The Republican candidate said he would eliminate all job positions vacant for more than one year. Acting Gov. Blair Lee III did that last July, abolishing 165 jobs for a savings of $1.8 million.
Beall also said he would freeze all new state jobs except those staff positions needed for a new building - such as a hospital - or for an emergency. Such an order was put into effect early this summer, but has since been modified because it created a great deal of paper work, according to state officials.
Beall's new proposal is to eliminate half the jobs that are vacated every year because employes retire or quit. The turnover rate is about 10 percent, and the proposal thus would lead to a savings of some $3 million. Those jobs would be eliminated on a case-by-case basis, Beall said.
His "modified zero-base budgeting" already is being practiced by the state government as part of an experimental program approved during the last General Assembly session. Rather than prepare a single budget, the major departments construct three alternative budgets that indicate which programs would be eliminated if funds are cut or added by the governor.
Both Beall and the Democratic supporters of the program believe that this approach will reveal unnecessary spending throughout government agencies.
The most novel of Beall's suggestions is his plan for public budget hearings around the state. Although he did not offer specifics, Beall envisions regional hearings for each department and agency budget so the public can comment before the governor and legislature put together the state's annual budget, which currently is $3.5 billion.
"The bottom line is we have to show people we'll give them a dollar's value for their tax dollar," said Beall. "I think it's time citizens had some input."