Legislature’s Top Staffer and Longtime Fiscal Guru to Retire
By Josh Kurtz
Warren Deschenaux, the executive director of the Department of Legislative Services, who has been an integral part of the budget-making and policy-writing process in Annapolis for decades, announced Tuesday that he plans to retire on Dec. 1.
Deschenaux’s departure means the top two leaders of the legislature’s central staff will have moved on in a period of less than two years — even as the General Assembly continues to be run by presiding officers with record-setting tenures.
Deschenaux has led DLS since early 2016, after the previous director, Karl Aro, retired following several decades at the agency. But Deschenaux has been the legislature’s leading budget authority for two decades, often butting heads with governors, their budget chiefs and county leaders over fiscal policy.
Senate President Mike Miller (D) and House Speaker Mike Busch (D) were effusive in their praise of Deschenaux on Tuesday.
“Throughout his time at Department of Legislative Services, he has embodied the spirit of the Department by providing fair and honest analysis, guidance, and leadership for the state,” Miller said in a statement. “His wise counsel, wit, and keen budget mind will be sorely missed by the entire legislature.”
Busch added: “There is no person in the State that knows more about Maryland’s budget or budget process than Mr. Deschenaux. He has been a trusted advisor to Democratic and Republican legislators alike. The imprint that he leaves on the Department of Legislative Services, as well as the structure of modern State government, will continue on.”
Miller and Busch said the General Assembly will undertake a national search to find Deschenaux’s successor. They have formed a bipartisan steering committee to oversee the interview process and recommend candidates.
The members are: Senate President Pro Tem Nathaniel McFadden (D), Senate Majority Leader Douglas Peters (D), Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R), House Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones (D), House Minority Leader Nic Kipke (R) and House Ways and Means Chairman Anne Kaiser (D). Deschenaux will also serve on the committee.
The presiding officers vowed that a new executive director will be in place by the start of the 2018 legislative session.