ANNAPOLIS – School construction, Pfiesteria piscicida, tax relief and the dairy compact topped central Maryland’s priorities this legislative session.
But while Baltimore County officials are “fabulously pleased” with their haul from the session, Harford County legislators are worried they will not get enough money for schools.
Del. Nancy Jacobs, R-Harford, called it a bittersweet session and said her delegation has had to work hard to get everything Harford needs.
Harford County officials came to Annapolis this year seeking $4 million to build one new school.
“We did very well,” Jacobs said. “We’re waiting to see the capital budget. We’re hoping we’ll get our fair share. We did well for schools — our No. 1 priority.”
But Baltimore County lawmakers have no such concerns.
“Our county did fabulously well — I’m happy,” said Sen. Paula Hollinger, D-Baltimore County. “Everybody in the state can go home after this session and feel great.”
The delegation asked for $30.5 million for schools and expects to see at least $28 million.
Baltimore County Executive C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger on Wednesday attributed the county’s “impressive and comprehensive” success to teamwork.
“This delegation stuck together to work for the good of Baltimore County,” he said.
“We have three new community and recreation centers, 96 more acres of national parks, 75 new teaching mentors and 37 aging school projects. Over four years, we’ve created over 9,000 school seats,” Ruppersberger said.
But Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann said through a spokesman that she was disappointed with the session.
The spokesman, George F. Harrison, said Rehrmann had backed a bill that would have required that schools be notified by police when a student is arrested for a crime. She had also hoped for funding to build a senior center in Bel Air.
But neither bill passed.
Republicans from both counties said they were disappointed with some of the General Assembly’s spending habits.
Del. James F. Ports Jr., R-Baltimore County, said he was happy to see the legislature pass an expanded earned-income tax credit for low-income taxpayers. But he did not think middle- class taxpayers got a big enough tax break this year.
The legislature voted to cut the income tax rate this year by 5 percent, up from the 2 percent cut that had been scheduled to take effect this year. That accelerated tax cut was driven by the state’s estimated $260 million surplus this year.
Jacobs said she was glad to take home an accelerated tax- relief plan, but she resents what she called a spin on the budget surplus.
“Here we are giving out all these funds,” she said. “It’s like we’re giving out taxpayer money and taking credit for it. We’re growing government at taxpayer expense.”