ROCKVILLE – Less than a month after taking office Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) is already facing tough challenges.
Among other things, Frosh is facing a huge budget cut to the attorney general’s office that he was not expecting when he entered his new position.
“I got sworn in on the sixth (of January) and on the seventh my assistant walks in at 10:00 and says ‘you got a $350,000 cut that your office has to absorb and it has to be done by June 30,’” Frosh said. “That’s a big cut to perform in such a short time. When I came in (to office) there were a lot of vacancies that needed to be filled and things that needed to be done that now cannot be done.”
So far Frosh said there’s nothing frivolous to cut and there may be some “fat” to cut, but he has yet to find it.
“The unique thing about our department is that it’s all personnel – the budget is all salaries and rent,” Frosh said.
Because of that Frosh said there is not much that he can currently cut from the budget.
“If we can figure out a way to reduce our rent that’d be terrific, but that most likely won’t happen considering we’re in a multi-year lease,” Frosh said.
Frosh said the unfortunate reality is that because of the circumstances the budget cuts will most likely have to come from salaries. Any vacancies will either remain or be filled at a later time when more budgeting is found.
Frosh said the vacancies are vital to the office of the attorney general because those positions would normally be filled with “attorneys that protect the public from fraud” and “prosecutors that charge people with gang crimes.”
Despite the budget problems Frosh retains a bright outlook on his term.
“It will certainly take some time and I don’t think we have the full amount of resources that I’d like to have, but I’m still hopeful and optimistic that we will get things going and get the job done,” he said.
Looking forward Frosh said he is focused on three main priorities, among many other smaller ones: public safety, consumer protection and environmental protection. Frosh said he made his priorities based on the things he heard most people were concerned about while he was on the campaign trail.
“People want to feel safe in their neighborhoods,” he said. “People don’t want to be fraudulently ripped off by people that are taking their credit card numbers. People want to be protected from all of that.”
As to the importance of environmental protection Frosh said one only has to look across the border to West Virginia, referencing the chemical spill in Elk County that polluted water in nine counties and left 300,000 people without access to clean water.