Did Maryland balance the budget with fuzzy math?

By Len Lazarick | Maryland Reporter

Picking apart Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed fiscal 2015 budget, the Legislature’s chief fiscal analyst told lawmakers Monday that the administration relied on “familiar budget balancing strategies” to make the numbers work.

According to the fiscal briefing by chief analyst Warren Deschenaux, these tactics in O’Malley’s final spending plan included:

  • leaving a fund balance cushion of only $30 million, far too small to cover unexpected spending, known as deficiencies. Deficiencies have averaged $145 million in recent years;
  • shifting revenue from dedicated taxes for open space into the general fund pot;
  • increasing bond debt to finance the open space programs supposed to be funded by those dedicated taxes;
  • giving pay raises in mid year, which requires extra funding in the following budget to pay the full raise;
  • providing no money to handle costly court judgments on bail representation and out-of-state taxes;
  • tapping into reserves of the employee health benefit fund;
  • cutting required pension payments by $100 million.

at Maryland Reporter.

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