This is Doomsday?

When you’re looking at a budget deficit of one billion, five hundred million dollars, as is the state of Maryland, there are a few different ways of attacking the problem.

Years ago, Charlie Peters of the Washington Monthly explained the history of strategic responses to budget problems. For example, in response to a proposed budget cut, Amtrak testified on the Hill that it would have to cut routes:

– San Francisco to Bakersfield, which ran through Stockton, the home town of the chairman of the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

– St. Louis to Laredo, running through Little Rock, the home of the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee

– Chicago to Seattle, running through the home towns of the Senate majority leader and the chairman of the Senate commerce committee.

You can guess how far that went. The tactic is better known as the Washington Monument strategy, in honor of the National Park Service, which said that budget cuts would force them to close the monument.

This week, State lawmakers got to see their own Washington Monument strategy, attending a briefing which laid out the types of budget cuts that might have to be implemented if there were no additional revenues to make up the one and a half billion dollar deficit. Senate president Mike Miller and House speaker Busch labeled the ominous briefing “the doomsday scenario.” All of the political leaders of the state (Miller, Busch, and O’Malley) insist that there are going to have to be tax increases. Right now, it’s just a question of how large those increases will be, and to what extent increased revenues may come from permitting slot machines in some locations. This doomsday scenario was devised to scare people into accepting higher taxes.

The problem is, they haven’t even done doomsday very well. The doomsday scenario includes level funding for K-12 education (i.e., no cuts), level funding for higher education (no cuts), and a shift of half the cost of teacher retirement to the counties that employ them (the state continues funding the other half of that cost). This is doomsday? This isn’t shutting down the Washington Monument – it’s more like reducing visiting hours once per week.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Budget and Taxes, Education, Maryland

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