ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The state of Maryland has released details of an offer to state employees who are willing to voluntarily leave their jobs to help the state save money.

State employees in agencies in the executive branch would be offered a lump sum payment of $15,000, according to a letter dated Wednesday and sent to state employees. They also would receive an additional $200 for each year of service.

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“The goal of the program is to reduce the size of the state workforce by allowing employees to elect to voluntarily leave state service,” David Brinkley, Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget secretary, wrote in the letter.

The deadline to apply is March 13. People who apply and are selected by the state would have to leave no later than April 28.

Brinkley wrote that the offer is part of Hogan’s balanced budget plan, which was released last month.  It closed a budget shortfall of about $750 million.

“Accomplishing this task required some very tough decisions, but in the end the budget was structurally balanced without eliminating agencies and programs, imposing furloughs, or eliminating filled state positions,” Brinkley wrote.

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The voluntary separation plan aims to save about $30 million.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley included voluntary early separation in a package of budget cuts approved by the Board of Public Works last month.

“Voluntary employee buyouts are a standard method used to reduce spending and find efficiencies in government, both being goals that Governor Hogan has pledged to achieve,” said Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan. “This particular buyout agreement was unanimously agreed upon by the Board of Public Works on Jan. 7, and the governor is simply following through with it.”

O’Malley also offered voluntary separation in 2010 to help address a budget shortfall. More than 600 people accepted it in 2010.

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