ANNAPOLIS, DEC. 12 -- Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer, rejecting several alternative proposals by legislative leaders, said today that the state's deficit reduction package will have to include employee layoffs.
The governor said he doubts the number of layoffs can be kept "significantly below 1,800."
"I've been . . . dragged through the drain on layoffs," Schaefer said at an afternoon news conference. "If there were alternatives that I thought would work without disrupting our forward progress . . . I would have proposed it."
A week ago, the governor called for an estimated 1,800 layoffs on Jan. 1 as part of a $242.6 million bundle of spending cuts and transfers from reserve funds. Without the changes, Schaefer warned, the state would end the budget year next June in a deficit. He asked lawmakers to approve his use of a "rainy day" fund and other money set aside for parks and transportation.
On Tuesday, leaders of the House and Senate said the governor could avert layoffs among the state's 70,000 workers by halting more construction programs, trimming economic development efforts and imposing limited furloughs or scaling back pay raises.
Today, Schaefer accused lawmakers of posturing so they would be seen as salvaging state jobs. And unless lawmakers give approval for the use of some reserve funds, Schaefer has said he will order even deeper cuts in the state work force.
"There will be no good guys," Schaefer said. "They have to approve. If they don't approve and we can't come to any conclusion on any of this, then we take our action."
Schaefer said he hopes to get a final response from lawmakers this week. To give laid-off employees two weeks' notice, action must be taken by Monday.
Dennis H. Parkinson, deputy state budget director, also complained today that most of the proposals studied by legislators and their advisers deal only with the current budget and would not help alleviate a similar deficit forecast for the year beginning July 1.
Senate budget leaders were on a retreat today and could not be reached for comment.
Del. Charles J. Ryan (D-Prince George's), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, agreed that most of the proposals considered by legislators would address only immediate fiscal problems and said the governor must make final decisions.
"There are myriad other things besides layoffs that could be done," Ryan said. "When we get to our recommendations, we're going to try to have substantial input, but we will not cross over to the executive's prerogatives."
The governor said he would ask officials to look into the possibility of requiring some salaried employees to increase their work week from 35 hours to 40 to improve efficiency and hold down the need for added workers.
Schaefer's secretary of economic and employment development, J. Randall Evans, assailed the legislators' suggestion that $21.5 million in business financing assistance be cut from the budget. Evans said such a cut would be illogical when the economy needs a stimulus.
Meanwhile, the leader of the state's largest employee union, Maryland Classified Emloyees Association said pay raises should be jettisoned and furloughs imposed before layoffs are ordered.
But William Bolander, executive director of AFSME Council 92, said his organization sees no reason for layoffs or pay cuts.
"Our position still is we feel this can be done without employees being hurt at all," said Bolander, whose union represents about 10,000 state workers.