ANNAPOLIS – Montgomery County scored some legislative successes this year despite a slow session and many new faces, legislators and county officials say.
“It was a shakedown year to learn how things work,” County Executive Douglas Duncan said Monday, the last day of the 1995 legislative session. “It was kind of a mixed session for us.”
The Montgomery County Senate delegation had six freshman out of its eight members, while the county’s House delegation boasted nine new members.
“We did fairly well considering we had a new governor and a new batch of legislators,” said Sen. Ida Rubin, D-Montgomery, the new Senate delegation chairwoman. “We got some capital money and we’re looking to get a large amount of school construction money.”
The county’s victories included a $21.8 million increase in state aid, an 11 percent increase from last year.
“There was only a 6 percent increase statewide,” said Del. Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery, the House delegation leader. “I consider that to be a victory.”
The county also will receive additional money for school construction and the revitalization of town centers in Silver Spring and Rockville.
But some worried that the county’s construction projects would be shortchanged.
Del. Dana Dembrow, D-Montgomery, and Del. Richard LaVay, R- Montgomery, were concerned that the county would not get a fair share of this year’s capital budget.
“I suspect in the upcoming years we’ll start doing better,” LaVay said.
Del. Henry Heller, D-Montgomery, had hoped to secure more funding for community colleges, but otherwise thought it was a successful session. “We’re on balance for a first-year term with a new governor,” he said.
Many delegation members were disappointed that the state’s Transportation Trust Fund remained intact.
Baltimore receives $167 million from the fund, which includes fuel and licensing taxes, while the 23 counties divide another $167 million. Montgomery representatives had hoped to repeal or amend the fund to give their districts a bigger share of the pot.
In spite of the disappointments, most members were optimistic they would accomplish more next year. Many cited the revision of the Transportation Trust Fund as a top goal.
“We’ve planted the seeds,” said Sen. Jennie Forehand, D- Montgomery.
In addition, Barve said the delegation would press for more funding for capital projects.
Completing her first session as a lawmaker, Del. Adrienne Mandel, D-Montgomery, said she had a great learning experience.
“We’re beginning to build a very firm foundation for continued accomplishments down here,” she said.
Barve and Rubin said they were impressed with the delegation’s freshmen.
“They all did a terrific job,” Barve said.