ROCKVILLE – Plenty of Maryland’s budget is headed toward Montgomery County thanks to state legislators working together, said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan Wednesday.
“I’m very thrilled with the results,” Duncan said at a news conference surrounded by members of the county’s General Assembly delegation.
Delegation leaders said the county was able to achieve its goals in the session that ended late Monday because Montgomery representatives know how to work well together.
“We are truly ‘Team Montgomery,'” said Sen. Ida Ruben, D-Montgomery, chairman of the Senate delegation and Senate president pro-tem.
Delegate Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery, agreed.
“We had a very successful year in Annapolis,” said Barve, chairman of the county’s House delegation, “but nothing happens without teamwork.”
Millions of dollars in Gov. Parris Glendening’s budget are earmarked for projects in Montgomery, including $500,000 for the Silver Spring Innovation Center, $650,000 for a new nursing home for the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, and $1.5 million for the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts.
Ruben said the revitalization of Silver Spring took a “big step forward” with the inclusion of money for the Silver Spring Center which will serve as an “incubator for innovation technology.”
The county also received $800,000 to build a third classroom building on the Shady Grove campus of the University of Maryland. Campus administrators are developing a program to allow students to work toward a four-year degree while taking classes at Shady Grove.
This would be the first four-year degree-granting program within the county.
In addition to the money, the delegation was pleased with some of the legislation supported by Montgomery lawmakers that passed this year, including the Children’s Health Program Expansion Act, the governor’s gun-control bill, and a measure requiring that cigarette vending machines take only tokens.
“The Children’s Health Act makes it possible for every child in the state of Maryland to have quality health care,” Barve said.
The bill expands the list of needy children eligible to participate in the Children’s Health Program.
While some in the Legislature argued the state should have invested Maryland’s nearly $1 billion surplus in tax cuts, Ruben said cutting taxes would have come at the expense of programs desperately in need of funds and may have proven disastrous if the economy took a sudden downturn.
“We couldn’t afford to give any more tax breaks, because we’re not sure what’s waiting for us out there,” Ruben said
Plus, the state money Montgomery receives allows county government to reduce taxes, Barve said.
School construction also was an important issue for the county.
Although funds for construction will not be finalized until the Board of Public Works meets in May, Duncan said he anticipates Montgomery will receive its full $50 million request.
Only transportation was shorted in Montgomery’s funding requests, said Duncan.
More money is needed to alleviate the county’s traffic problems, he said. Duncan pointed to the Inter County Connector and Metro’s possible Purple Line as two projects needing more attention.