Governor Martin O’Malley said Wednesday in Elkridge that Congress’s inability to compromise on budget cuts has led to a situation where across the board cuts could slow Maryland’s economic growth.
O’Malley said that 12,000 jobs in the state could be lost due to sequestration.
To put that number in perspective, the governor said approximately 30,000 jobs were created in the state last year.
O'Malley's remarks came at FLIR Systems, a defense systems company in Elkridge, which is in Howard County.
“All of the great work that each of you does here is threatened by the uncertainty of the dysfunction in the halls of our House of Representatives,” said O’Malley.
If Congress can’t reach a compromise on the approximately $84 billion in automatic cuts before Friday, they will go into effect. The cuts will reduce spending in a number of areas, including education, the environment, health, military and law enforcement, the White House said.
The governor said it has been frustrating over the last couple of years dealing with manufactured crises generated in the House as the economy recovers.
He said the public is losing patience and becoming annoyed at having to hear about these crises every few months.
“It’s not good for our recovery and it’s not good for job creation in America,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley was joined at the podium by FLIR’s vice president of operations, Roger Wells and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
Wells said he was concerned that there would be a slowdown in funding available and that programs FLIR is working on won’t reach maturity.
“We’re taking a very conservative approach in investment and hiring because in this period of uncertainty we need to make sure we’re financially responsible and we don’t overextend ourselves,” said Wells.
At the same time, Wells noted how well FLIR was doing, saying the company is in the process of moving to a new facility across the street to double its space.
“We’ve made a strong commitment to growth,” said Wells.
Ulman said he used FLIR as an example when visiting credit ratings agencies in New York City on Monday as proof of Howard County’s growing economy.
He said his biggest concern is the unpredictably of the cuts and the effects they may have on the Howard County tax base.
“My feeling is, 'tell us what needs to be cut and let’s move on,'” said Ulman.
Ulman agreed that the federal budget needs to be reduced, but said there are better ways of doing it than across the board cuts.
When O’Malley was asked how the defense budget could be cut while protecting Maryland defense companies like FLIR, he said it has to be done in a reasonable way.
“Now that our troops are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s a more reasonable, balanced and sensitive way to reduce defense spending over without kicking our economy into a slump,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley said these crises combined with a cynical attitude towards federal government may create larger problems.
“What worries me most is that people become so cynical about their primary institution of government,” said O’Malley, “that they stop weighing in, that these games become another ho-hum and meanwhile our recovery stalls.”
“We need to get out of this vortex, the election is over,” said O’Malley.
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