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)
That figure is 4.6 percent more than last year’s figure of about $190 million set aside for aid to the county.
Total aid includes funding for primary and secondary education, public health and transportation, libraries and public safety, among other items.
Statewide, the 2014 fiscal year budget provides $7 billion in total aid to local governments, an increase of more than $317 million, or 4.8 percent, from last year.
“We are mostly at or above state averages for most categories,” said Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, who said he was pleased overall with the numbers. He and other members of the delegation are prepared for a long slog in the coming weeks as they try to make additions and changes to the governor’s budget to benefit Washington County, he said.
O’Malley on Wednesday called his budget a “jobs budget,” saying that it would create an additional 43,000 jobs in the state because of new capital projects.
Anthony O’Donnell, R-Calvert/St. Mary’s, who is the house minority leader and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-Caroline/Dorchester/Talbot/Wicomico and minority whip, called the budget an “accounting of convenience,” pointing out that the state’s spending has increased by 26 percent since fiscal year 2008.
According to the state’s Department of Legislative Services, the state’s total spending in the proposed operating budget would be $37.2 billion, up from $35.8 billion in the current fiscal year.
The following is a glimpse at spending by category:
Washington County will receive $1.4 million in police aid from the state, a figure that is decided based on population and population density. These grants, according to the state’s Department of Budget and Management, are shared between the counties and municipalities.
Fire and rescue systems in the county will receive $231,000.
Taken together, the aid being proposed for police and fire safety in the coming fiscal year is $528,000 more than last year.
Transportation and retirement
Highway user revenue, which includes revenue from transportation taxes, is shared between a county and municipalities.
According to the proposed budget, Washington County will receive $2.6 million in highway user revenue, transportation grants for the elderly and disabled, and other grants. This includes a share of a one-time grant of $15.4 million for the entire state meant for municipalities.
Because of the grant, it is proposed that Washington County could receive 73 percent more in transportation aid for the next fiscal year.
“One of the things that I like about the budget is that the municipalities ... would benefit from a one-time infusion” of the additional grant in the transportation aid, said Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington. That’s because other state funds to help maintain local roadways have dried up, Shank said.
Retirement contributions from the state for those eligible in the school system, libraries and community colleges will be $21.9 million, an increase of 17 percent from the current fiscal year.