O Rly? Real budget cutting?

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Wednesday he would cut $280 million from the state budget as he works to close a $700 million shortfall ripped open by declining tax revenues and increased spending.

The administration picked a number of easy targets — healthcare spending and higher education — but leave most of the hard calls — more job cuts and empoyee furloughs — to the next round of cutting sometime before Labor Day.

So how does O’Malley couch the budget trimming? “At least we ain’t California.”

Fact is the state’s budget problems are going to get worse for some time and the governor — and the General Assembly — is going to have to either raise taxes or start firing people. Or push those teacher pensions fully to the county, who get quite some coverage from Annapolis.

Now, the governor’s election is a cool 16 months off and O’Malley doesn’t look like he has any big-name challengers yet. Raising taxes again would draw some real challengers, but he’s unlikely to do that because winning that second term is too important.

So assume  he wins re-election to another four years: This time he doesn’t inherit Bob Ehrlich/Parris Glendening”s mess; this time he inherits Martin O’Malley’s.

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