Senator Colburn Reports from Annapolis

“Senator Richard F. Colburn (R. Eastern Shore) reported on events that took place this week in Annapolis. Senator Colburn stated, “”We are now in the middle of an economic recession, the likes of which we have not seen in over 80 years. Unlike the Federal Government, Maryland Government has limited borrowing power and we can not just print money. In the fall of 2007, the Governor called a Special Session and taxes were raised. According to Economics 101, the only alternative now is to reduce the size of government, just like the average Marylander who has to tighten his or her budget.

Governor Martin O’Malley said, “”One day we’ll reach the bottom of this economic downturn and we’ll start coming back. I wish I could tell you what’s going to happen in two months, I don’t know, nor does anyone else.”” As a result, lower than expected revenue estimates are now being blamed on the economic recession. The supplemental budget is greatly affected by this with “”more difficult choices ahead””. Governor O’Malley is, however, very committed to protecting priorities, especially in K-12 public education.

While lawmakers have rejected the possibility of layoffs, Governor O’Malley has indicated that layoffs might be revisited. Senate President Mike Miller has suggested that an alternative is additional furloughs and a 1 percent across the board pay cut. Labor union leaders are not comfortable with this idea and say they have been asked to take up to five furlough days already, which is the same as a pay cut. They are also not getting raises next year. Lawmakers have also raised the possibility of cuts in aid to local governments which accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s operating budget.

During these dire economic times, we need to drastically reduce the State government, not just talk about it. As a result, I have decided to introduce Senate Bill 1058 (Reorganization of State Government – Consolidating the Department of the Environment into the Department of Natural Resources). This bill would restructure State government by consolidating the Department of the Environment into the Department of Natural Resources. This can be easily accomplished by abolishing certain positions under these departments and by transferring all of the functions, powers, duties, equipment, assets, and liabilities of the Department of the Environment (MDE) to the Department of Natural Resources where they originated. This bill would also transfer all of the boards, commissions, programs, funds, and units of MDE to the Department of Natural Resources where they originated. The Secretary of Budget and Management, in conjunction with the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Secretary of the Environment would develop the plan.

Restructuring of State government by the consolidation of the Department of the Environment into the Department of Natural Resources would give needed relief to the overburdened Maryland taxpayer. Secondly, it would help streamline out of control state bureaucracies by eliminating unnecessary permitting often required from more than one State Agency Thirdly, it would put all environmental permitting under one Maryland department. Maryland’s bureaucratic nightmare has gotten so out of hand that the average citizen does not know anymore, which department he or she needs to apply for permit applications. Remember, the Department of Agriculture was formed to oversee all farming operations. We now see a Department of the Environment licensing Maryland farms. Again, Maryland government has gotten too big and is out of control.””

For more information on this and other issues, please feel free to contact Senator Richard Colburn’s office by calling (410) 841-3590 or (800) 492-7122 ext 3590 or by emailing
Richard.Colburn@senate.state.md.us.”

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