WASHINGTON – Gov. Parris N. Glendening urged Maryland’s congressional delegation Wednesday to transcend partisan politics in fighting federal budget cuts that could harm the state.
“Maryland is getting hit very, very hard by the federal budget cuts,” said Glendening, a Democrat.
The governor met with the state’s 10 members of Congress in an annual meeting that has traditionally celebrated the cooperation of Democrats and Republicans in defending state interests.
“When it comes to the state, we have tried to pull together,” Glendening said.
But, he said, GOP leadership proposals to cut money from education, Medicaid and the environment would particularly harm the state.
“We must balance the federal budget reasonably and responsibly, not by reducing educational opportunities for children, eliminating environmental protection, or cutting holes in the safety net,” he said in a prepared statement.
“These should be the areas designated for protection, not targeted for elimination,” he said.
The governor told the delegation that two partial shutdowns of the federal government – caused by an impasse between Congress and President Clinton on deficit reduction – created a sluggishness in Maryland’s economy. There are a large number of federal government workers in the state.
Congress is negotiating with the president to avoid a third government shutdown, which would result if a new funding bill is not provided by Friday.
Glendening announced Tuesday he would not seek a personal income tax cut this year due to a projected $392 million deficit in Maryland’s budget.
While most of the discussion applauded local members’ efforts to overcome partisan politics, some comments echoed the intense budget debate raging between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Baltimore Democrat, said the Senate had engaged in “hand-to-hand combat” in the battle to restore education funds to the proposed budget. “We are [now] in a bitter struggle related to public safety and the environment,” she added.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Frederick Republican, spoke of the “moral imperative” of balancing the budget and reducing the federal deficit.
He said except for three areas – defense, agriculture and natural resources – federal spending would actually increase in the Republican’s proposed budget.
Glendening responded that he would send Bartlett a list of more than $100 million in cuts Maryland has suffered. -30-