In his final days in office, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is suggesting $640 million in cuts for Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R) to make to balance the state’s books.
Hogan, who takes office on Wednesday, will inherit a nearly $767 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, a deficit that has grown in the past month. Previously, the shortfall was estimated to be closer to $750 million.
"At this point, we're still trying to determine who on our staff received this proposal from the O'Malley administration and would greatly appreciate if any member of the press could forward it to us," said Hogan’s deputy communications director, Doug Mayer.
The proposal includes a 4 percent cut in spending by state agencies for a total of $238 million; a delay in implementing the estate tax, a new law that allows affluent residents to avoid taxes on a greater portion of the wealth they leave when they die, which would save about $25 million; and a $50 million repeal of a repayment for Program Open Space, a program that uses a portion of real estate closing taxes to buy and preserve land for ball fields, trails and golf courses.
On Thursday, Hogan named former Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, a longtime Republican legislator from Frederick County, as budget secretary. Brinkley, a member of Hogan’s transition team and a former member of the Senate budget and tax committee, said he has been working on the budget for months.
Hogan has previously warned of budget cuts. But he has also indicated that he wants to provide residents with tax relief.
The recommendations from O’Malley come about a week after a state panel approved nearly $200 million in cuts to the state’s current operating budget. The largest reduction came from a 2 percent across-the-board cut for all state agencies that totaled $113 million.
Under those cuts, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the University System of Maryland were two of the hardest hit, losing $63 million and $40 million respectively.
The board also approved seeking nearly $40 million in savings through voluntary-retirement incentives and the elimination of vacant positions, proposals that officials said could affect up to 1,000 slots.
O’Malley’s latest recommendation includes an additional $60 million in savings through voluntary retirement incentives and getting rid of vacant positions, according to budget documents.
O’Malley administration budget officials could not be reached for comment.
Parts of O’Malley’s proposal would require action by the General Assembly.