The presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly told the state’s Budget secretary Tuesday that they have made cuts totaling $4.8 million from the legislature’s internal fiscal year 2020 budget, which they will return to the state treasury.
The amount represents 5% of the legislature’s annual budget.
“Our State is experiencing unprecedented times during the COVID-19 crisis: soaring unemployment; shuttered businesses and slumping State revenues,” Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) wrote in a letter to Budget and Management Secretary David R. Brinkley. “It is imperative that we all do our part to protect the state’s fiscal health to maintain social safety net programs during this time.”
The lawmakers’ letter comes as state fiscal officers are scrambling to close an unanticipated budget gap before the fiscal years ends on June 30. Already the Board of Public Works, which has budgetary powers when the legislature isn’t in session, cut $120 million from the budget two weeks ago, as revenues plummet from the fallout over COVID-19.
In mid-May, the presiding officers asked lawmakers to cut their office budgets by 5%. They also put a hold on travel and other non-essential expenses.
“During this past legislative session, our budget committees worked to improve your initial budgetary work,” Jones and Ferguson said in their letter to Brinkley. “We ensured a balanced budget: setting aside the highest amount ever for the Rainy Day Fund; cutting non-essential programming; and leaving hundreds of millions in cash reserves to help with these expected budgetary shortfalls.”
The letter continued: “As one of the agencies with the lowest growth in budget over the course of this Administration, we are eager to voluntarily do our part to aid the overall fiscal health of the state. We hope this is helpful.”