Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes told the state's congressional delegation yesterday that President Reagan's proposed 1983 budget cuts would slash more than $200 million from state programs for education, health, welfare and social services and will most severely affect those "who need the most help--the poorest of the poor."
Hughes, seeking support on Capitol Hill to fight Reagan's proposed domestic spending cuts, said "there is absolutely no way Maryland can minimize the harm" to the state's most needy citizens, if those cuts are enacted by Congress.
The sluggish economy and consequently lower collections of state sales, corporate and income taxes, along with record high Maryland unemployment rates, have forced officials to take a dimmer view of Maryland's 1983 financial prospects.
"We're worried about '83 revenues," Louis Stettler III, state secretary for budget and fiscal planning, said after the meeting. "There is some concern the economy is not moving, and if it doesn't, we won't get the revenues in '83 that we anticipated."
Stettler told the delegation that when the state budget was written last fall, officials based their 1983 revenue estimates on the assumption that the economy would be "more vigorous starting April 1." Officials also assumed that federal support for those programs would remain at 1982 levels.
But neither assumption proved sound, as Reagan this year proposed further cuts in domestic spending for fiscal 1983 and the economy continued in its slump. Those factors are wreaking havoc with the state's attempt to juggle dollars, programs and jobs in what had appeared a successful attempt to dull the pain of Reaganomics.
"We have tried to minimize the harm, but there is a limit to how far we can go," Hughes told the state's two senators and six of its members of Congress.
Hardest hit by the proposed cuts will be the state's social service and welfare programs, according to Kalman Hettleman, secretary of the Department of Human Resources.
Reagan's tightening of eligibility standards for two major welfare programs will force 39,000 Marylanders to lose food stamp benefits and about 8,000 to lose benefits from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, according to Hettleman. Another 36,000 who receive AFDC, the nation's largest welfare program, will see their benefits reduced, Hettleman said. These reductions come on top of cutbacks in the programs last year because of new eligibility standards.
Money for Maryland's CETA program for job training will shrink by about $3.6 million under the Reagan proposal, which would also eliminate the Work Incentive Program that helps mothers on AFDC obtain and hold jobs, according to documents presented by Hettleman.
Although both programs have been rife with problems, the Work Incentive Program last year placed about 5,000 AFDC mothers in jobs, according to Hughes' records.
When the meeting was over, two Democratic members of the delegation, Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Rep. Barbara Mikulski, offered their support. "I think it is clear Congress has to resist these deep slashing cuts the administration proposes to make," Sarbanes said. The senator said he would give closer scrutiny to the defense budget and reexamine "large tax breaks to the very wealthy."
But Hettleman said he was concerned that the recent breakdown in budget negotiations between the administration and the Democrats is "lulling people to sleep with the sense that the Reagan budget will not pass." Hettleman fears that a stalemate on the Reagan budget will result in a budget vote like last year's, which he said "cut programs serving the poor the most."