- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

ANNAPOLIS Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced $205.4 million in spending cuts yesterday, saying the state cannot afford increased anti-terrorist security costs amid a continuing economic downturn.
The cuts include imposing an immediate statewide hiring freeze, postponing $65 million in capital projects and shaving 1.5 percent of expenses from each state department.
Maryland has not taken such drastic steps to cut expenses since the recession of the early 1980s. Mr. Glendening said the state simply cannot afford to maintain its current rate of spending while spending millions more on extra security.
Maryland has spent an unbudgeted $6 million on security at airports, the Port of Baltimore, state buildings and public events since Sept. 11, the governor said. His staff estimates that will rise to $24 million by June 30, the end of fiscal 2002.
Added to the security cost crunch is a drop in revenue. In August and September, major state taxes brought in $53.7 million less than the same two months last year.
The revenue is not likely to increase in the next several months, Mr. Glendening said.
"The attacks of Sept. 11 turned an economic slowdown, at least temporarily, into an economic standstill," Mr. Glendening said.
Travel and tourism, more than any other state industries, have taken a blow since the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Mr. Glendening said. He stressed that Maryland's economy still is strong, with the unemployment rate at 3.9 percent less than the national average of 4.9 percent.
The $205.4 million in cuts should be more than enough to make up for the fall in revenue and the jacked-up security costs, said Mike Morrill, the Democratic governor's communications director.
"This will give us the cushion we need to make the decisions we need to make in December," Mr. Morrill said, referring to the time when Mr. Glendening must balance the fiscal 2002 budget and prepare his fiscal 2003 budget.
The state will continue to hire the security officers it needs, and it will continue its heightened security. That includes intense inspections of trucks, maintaining upgraded emergency response and anti-terrorism plans, and coordinating plans with local public health officials and emergency officials, utilities and industry trade associations.
The state also will continue providing health benefits for state workers now on active military duty.
House Minority Whip Robert Flanagan, Howard County Republican, said Republicans predicted last winter that Mr. Glendening's budget "was filled with false promises" and a day of reckoning would come.
"That day has arrived," he said.
Fellow Howard County Republican Robert Kittleman, the House minority leader, said Democrats "just went bonkers spending money last year."
Mr. Kittleman said Mr. Glendening had no choice but to reduce spending because "he's got to retract some of the stuff he promised last year."
But Mr. Morrill emphasized that none of the cuts would have been necessary without the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Mr. Glendening's budget would have been able to absorb the $6 million that has been spent on security so far, he said. It cannot absorb the $24 million it will cost by June 30.
Maryland still has almost $1 billion in cash reserves, Mr. Glendening said, but that money is only for emergencies and is not a "checking account."

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