The Washington Post

Maryland seeks to cushion blow of sequester on programs helping poor, elderly

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced Wednesday that he is tapping the first $9 million of a $100 million reserve account established by the General Assembly to mitigate the effects of the federal sequester.

O’Malley said the funds would be used to “protect Marylanders against the harm that these arbitrary cuts would cause” to several initiatives that are supported by federal funds, including Head Start, Meals on Wheels and drug treatment programs.

“Congress’s senseless sequester and the resulting job-killing cuts are threatening our economic progress in Maryland and putting vulnerable Marylanders at risk,” O’Malley said in a statement.

The move was supported by both presiding officers of the legislature, who worked with O’Malley during this year’s 90-day session to established the special account, and it was praised by key members of the state’s congressional delegation.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the action was “prudent” and that the failure of Congress to revisit the sequester cuts is “hammering state budgets and service delivery to those who need it the most.”

“We will continue to work together and be responsible at the state level but it is time for the federal government to do the same,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).

O’Malley said the beneficiaries of the $9 million will include nearly 500 low-income children who will be able to participate in Head Start; about 3,000 adults who will receive food through Meals on Wheels; 2,500 seniors who will have access to health screenings; and 7,000 people who will receive job placement and training assistance.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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