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Md. Employees Offered Buyouts To Offset Budget Cuts

Maryland's budget crunch means making some hard decisions, and the O'Malley administration is offering an option to state employees who might otherwise face layoffs.

Political reporter Pat Warren has details about the governor's proposal.

The O'Malley administration got together with members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union, put their heads together and came up with a buyout.

Furloughs are the price state workers pay for Maryland's budget woes. A rally in Annapolis last year failed to prevent the days off-no pay that shrink employee paychecks. And workers felt the pinch.

"The fat has been cut, the muscle has been cut, we're down to the bone," said Sue Espy at last year's rally. "What do we want? Public services! When do we want em? Now!"

Now at the end of 2010, a new money saving measure asks employees to end their service in the form of a buyout. The union is all for it.

"Yeah, if they have the opportunity," said Patrick Moran, AFSCME. "If they think it's going to serve them well and help them make that next step, we're encouraging people to do that."  

Between a layoff and a buyout, state workers today prefer the buyout.

"I think it would be a good idea, the people who think it would be an advantage could take it and probably save the state some money," said one constituent.

"I think its good for those who are getting close to retiring," said another.

"Ok, great. Well, you know, if it works for some people, I'm all for it," said another.

And it's just part of what the state will have to do because the budget deficit estimate is about $1.6 billion, and there's no way a buyout is going to take care of that.  

It's a $15,000 buyout with an additional $200 for each year of service.

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