Governor Martin O'Malley and the Maryland General Assembly have taken swift action to protect Maryland's safety net from the effects of federal sequestration, which is a series of automatic cuts mandated by law that threaten job creation and reduce vital services for families and children in Maryland and across the nation. The Maryland Legislative Policy Committee recently approved the O'Malley-Brown Administration's proposed budget amendment that appropriates nearly $9 million in dedicated funds to support critical programs and services impacted by federal sequestration.
"Congress' senseless sequester and the resulting job-killing cuts are threatening our economic progress in Maryland and putting vulnerable Marylanders at risk," said Governor O'Malley. "We were aware that Congress might make this mistake, so together with our partners in the General Assembly, we took emergency action and allocated $100 million in this year's budget to protect Marylanders against the harm that these arbitrary cuts would cause to important initiatives like Head Start and Meals on Wheels. Since Congress has failed to fix its mistake, we're now investing approximately $9 million of the money we set aside to help Marylanders by delivering meals to seniors, ensuring young children can continue early education, and restoring other vital services."
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. added: "Maryland responsibly set aside $100 million in the Dedicated Purpose Account last session to ensure it would be available for this year's budget to deal with the multiple effects the State is experiencing as a result of the sequester.We will continue to work together and be responsible at the State level but it is time for the federal government to do the same."
"Congress's continued inaction on sequestration is hammering state budgets and service delivery to those who need it most," said House Speaker Michael E. Busch.
"The arbitrary cuts are disproportionately affecting low-income working people, who are most in need of safety net services to support their families. In Maryland, we made the prudent decision to plan for the impact of these cuts and backfill $100 million in the State's budget. Now is the time for Congress to act, so that states can continue their economic recovery."
The Governor continues to urge action in Congress to avoid these job-killing cuts. The Governor's FY 2014 budget, passed by the General Assembly, allocates $100 million to prepare for the impact of federal sequestration in Maryland. In total, the FY 2014 budget preserves more than $1 billion in cash resources between the fund balance and the increase in the Rainy Day Fund.
The nearly $9 million in investments will be distributed to State agencies to restore critical programs and services to Marylanders. Nearly 500 low-income children will be able to participate in Head Start programs that will prepare them to enter school ready to learn ($4.1 million). Approximately 3,000 individuals will receive the substance abuse prevention and treatment services they need ($1.6 million). Approximately 3,000 older adults will receive 180,000 meals, 2,500 seniors will have access to health screenings, and 200 seniors will be provided with home and community-based services, including personal care and adult day care. ($1.4 million). Fifty individuals in need of vocational rehabilitation services will receive those services without delay ($800,000). Approximately 7,000 people will receive job placement and training assistance ($500,000). Seventy-five adult education classes serving about 800 students will be offered as planned ($400,000).
"I am so proud of Governor O'Malley, Lt. Governor Brown and the entire Maryland General Assembly for taking action to protect Maryland's jobs and Maryland's safety net from the reckless cuts of the sequester," said Senator Barbara A. Mikulski.
"Sequestration sets Maryland and our Nation back instead of putting us on the road to prosperity. That's why, as Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I'm fighting for a balanced solution to end sequester. Sequester is not the new normal. Instead, we must continue to invest in Maryland and America -- in our infrastructure and in our people -- to create jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow."
"Maryland's most vulnerable citizens have been paying the price for this irrational, meat-ax approach to deficit reduction called sequestration. I commend Governor O'Malley and our state leaders for stepping in to ensure that Maryland's seniors, children and families in need still have a safety net to see them through critical times," said Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. "Sequestration is bad policy that hurts real families. We must replace it with a sensible, balanced federal budget that invests in our future and returns us to a time of strong, reliable federal-state partnership."
"I applaud the decision made by Governor O'Malley and the Maryland General Assembly to make new funds available to reduce the impact of sequestration on our state -- but I certainly wish this action had not been necessary," Congressman Elijah Cummings said. "The senseless cuts required by sequestration are threatening essential services and undermining our nation's competitiveness and I will continue to work to end these cuts and put in place a balanced approach to deficit reduction."
"While it is unacceptable that Congress has failed to take action to replace sequestration, today's announcement is welcome news," stated Congressman Steny Hoyer. "I'm pleased that the O'Malley-Brown administration, in partnership with the Maryland General Assembly, has taken important steps to provide relief to Maryland families, seniors, the vulnerable, and others affected by this irrational process. I continue to believe Congress must replace the sequester in its entirety with a balanced alternative, and I urge Members on both sides of the aisle to work toward such an agreement as soon as possible."
"Governor O'Malley and the General Assembly have taken important action to mitigate the damaging impacts of sequestration on Maryland families and communities, but Congress must take up legislation to avoid further harm. I have tried to offer a plan to responsibly replace the sequester seven times this year, but have been consistently denied a vote by House Republican leadership. It is time for Congress to stop passing the buck to states and craft a federal budget that ends the arbitrary meat-ax cuts of sequestration and funds critical services like Head Start, job training, and Meals on Wheels," said Congressman Chris Van Hollen.
Federal sequestration poses a threat to Maryland's ability to create jobs and expand opportunity. Working together, the State has now recovered 94 percent of the jobs lost in the national recession. In 2013, Maryland has created 17,800 new jobs posting job gains in five out of seven months. Over the past 12 months, the State has created 39,000 new jobs. Maryland's dynamic private sector is leading our job growth creating 9 out of every 10 new jobs at a rate nearly 20 percent faster than Virginia.
Because of the better choices made together, Maryland stands as one of only nine states with a Triple A bond rating affirmed by all three bond rating agencies -- a seal of fiscal responsibility. Since taking office, the O'Malley-Brown Administration, in partnership with the General Assembly, has limited average annual budget growth to the lowest level in recent history (2%), made record level cuts to State spending (in excess of $8.6 billion), and nearly eliminated the State's structural budget deficit while continuing to target investments in job creation, public education and other shared priorities.