Washington County lawmakers cautiously optimistic of Gov. O'Malley's 'jobs budget' for 2014
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley addresses members of the Maryland House of Delegates on the first day of the 2013 legislative session in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Standing behind O'Malley is House Speaker Michael Busch. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky / January 19, 2013)
Money set aside by the state for the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown is an estimated $1.9 million for the next fiscal year.
That amount is about $4,000 more than the allocation in the last three years.
Last year, Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., D-St. Mary’s, proposed reducing the USMH budget by $1 million, but that bill ended up not affecting the Hagerstown campus.
Bohanan made a similar attempt in 2008 to reduce funding to USMH through the budget process, according to reports, in an effort to increase funding to other Maryland regional higher education systems.
“Clearly, right now ... it appears University System at Hagerstown is not only fine, but looks like a slight increase. Looks like Hagerstown Community College is in good shape ... We are still digging down into this,” Serafini said. “So overall, those consistent and major funding things look OK so far.”
Education aid in Washington County for primary and secondary education is scheduled to increase by $2.6 million, or 1.7 percent, over the current fiscal year, with the total aid amounting to about $161 million. That excludes state contributions to the pension and retirement system.
The proposed education aid per student in the county’s public schools is $8,251, while the state average is at $7,284.
Hagerstown Community College is scheduled to receive direct grants of $7.4 million. In the 2013 fiscal year, the direct aid for HCC, which is calculated on a formula based on the number of full-time students, was at $6.97 million.
Washington County public libraries are scheduled to get $1.2 million in operating and capital expenses, according to the budget figures released by O’Malley.
Local delegation members had been hoping that the county would be included in the state’s disparity grant in the proposed budget, but it was not.
The annual grant is given to counties with per-capita income tax revenue less than 75 percent of the state average.
But Washington County, which should qualify according to that formula, has not been receiving the grant because the program was capped in 2010, stopping counties that were not eligible in fiscal year 2010 from getting the grant in later years.
If eligible, the county would have received $6.7 million in the current fiscal year.
Shank said Thursday that the delegation would make every effort to get the grant.
“The delegation is going to continue to work through the budget reconciliation financing act ... to try to get that formula changed,” Shank said. “We are talking about forming a coalition of those different counties to try to see what we can do to advance that issue.”
Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, said he also was disappointed about the disparity grant.
“Now, we do qualify and we ought to get it,” Parrott said.
Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he liked the governor’s budget.
“I think it is very fair to Washington County,” Donoghue said. “There are no surprises.”