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From MarylandReporter.com:

STATE BUYOUTS In the latest effort to cut costs as the state looks to another huge budget shortfall next year, Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday offered state workers a $15,000 buyout to quit by the end of January, and added $200 per year of service, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

The Post's John Wagner reports that O'Malley said the program is intended to "cut costs in a fiscally responsible way" and help avoid layoffs in his budget proposal due to the General Assembly in mid-January.

The buyouts are the first step to cutting 500 jobs before the administration might turn to layoffs, reports Abby Brownback of the Capital News Service. Her story appears in the Daily Record.

Scott Dance wrote the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.

OPEN GOVERNMENT Writing in a Sun op-ed, Marta Mossburg says that whatever O'Malley does to fix the budget, he needs to offer citizens a clear view of state government.

SAVE THE PREAKNESS The eminent domain law may just come in handy as the state and racing interests try to save the Preakness, opines the Annapolis Capital editorial board.

SAVE THE BAY The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post writes that although it was late in getting its plan on saving the Chesapeake Bay to the EPA, Maryland used its time wisely and came up with a plan to meet its bay pollution reductions a full five years earlier than required by the federal government -- in 2020 as opposed to 2025.

TAX REPORTING Owners of rental property will soon face tough new tax reporting requirements and stiff penalties if they don't comply, reports Barbara Pash for MarylandReporter.com.

ETHICS REHAB Sun opinionaters say that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is going to have to tackle head-on the perception of ethical laxity and mediocrity that led to residents' loss of faith in their local officials. He could take a cue from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who took over after former Mayor Sheila Dixon was forced to step down following her theft conviction.

And Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland asks, what does it say when the biggest cheers at Baker's inauguration on Monday were for Marion Barry? That the reform-minded new executive has his work cut out for him, to say the very least.

JOHNSON BARRED Leslie Johnson, indicted in a federal corruption probe with her husband, former Prince George's County Exec Jack Johnson, might have been sworn in to the County Council on Monday, but her peers have unanimously barred her from serving on any committees, reports the Post's Miranda Spivack and Matt Zapotosky.

The public shunning comes a day after County Exec Baker pledged to oversee the most ethical administration in the Washington region, Brian Hughes reports for the Washington Examiner.

The Gazette's Daniel Valentine and Vanessa Harrington report that the council also gave the leadership post to Ingrid Turner of Bowie.

JOHNSON IMAGE Avis Thomas-Lester and Paul Schwartzman of the Post write that the charge's against Leslie Johnson go counter to her image as a judge and devoted mother.

FACING DEFICIT In the first day of a new session yesterday, Montgomery County Council members began confronting the reality of the hefty spiral-bound report on how they could save hundreds of millions of dollars, Michael Laris reports for the Post.

FREDERICK SHORTFALL Eliminating a projected shortfall of $12 million in fiscal 2012 is the most critical issue facing the Frederick Board of County Commissioners, reports Sherry Greenfield for the Gazette.

The commissioners have said they do not want to raise taxes, so they are looking at cuts to eliminate the projected deficit, writes Meg Tully of the Frederick News-Post. NO TO STATUS QUO: Stepping into his second term in office, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt said that the "status quo will no longer suffice" and that it's time for a "smaller, leaner operation" in government, Greg Latshaw reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

BA CO COUNCIL MEETS The Baltimore County Council's first meeting took a look at County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's plan for realignments and job cuts, reports Steve Schuster of the Towson Times.

SMITH ON LEGACY Looking back on the eight-year tenure of Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, one might say his greatest challenges came in the form of three storms, writes Steve Schuster for the Towson Times.

Smith also is defending his son’s role in raising money for County Council candidates in the 2010 primary and general elections, Schuster reports.

MORE OF SAME The returning Howard County Council and County Exec Ken Ulman all pledged "more of the same" governance that they have offered the county in the past four years, reports the Sun's Larry Carson.

SWORN-IN Washington County's Commissioners shared their life stories following their swearing in yesterday, reports Heather Keels of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

LEOPOLD SWORN IN Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold and the County Council were sworn into office on Monday, Erin Cox reports for the Annapolis Capital.

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