- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday made the front of the State House look like a used-car lot, trying to sell half of his office’s fleet of vehicles, a small gesture to address Maryland’s coming budget deficit.

With 10 cars festooned with signs such as “Priced to Move,” “Inventory Reduction Sale” and “Almost New,” Mr. O’Malley said his administration was doing “a little spring cleaning” by getting rid of the vehicles and ending take-home car privileges for staffers.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, said the sale is part of a larger effort to find an initial $200 million in savings, which will help address a projected $1.5 billion structural deficit next year.

“This is just one of the first steps that you will be seeing in the days and weeks ahead of the different choices that we’ll be making in order to come up with that collective amount of that $200 million that we talked about last week,” he said.

The governor’s office has 24 cars assigned to it, and 12 are either being sold or sent to other agencies that need them, instead of buying new ones. For example, two unmarked police cars have been turned over to the Maryland Transit Administration Police.

The governor also has asked state agencies to look for vehicles that aren’t needed.

Maryland’s government has about 9,000 cars in its fleet statewide. In fiscal 2007, it cost about $55 million to maintain them.

“I don’t expect that every agency will be able to reduce its fleet the way the executive branch has reduced our fleet, but I do expect that there is money to be saved on fleet in every single department in state government,” Mr. O’Malley said.

The governor estimated the cut in vehicles in his office will save about $36,000.

Last week, Mr. O’Malley directed his Cabinet to look for ways to save money, a process that could include layoffs.

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