Prince George’s County Budget Proposal Expected to Focus on Economic Development

Prince George’s County Executive, Rushern Baker, is expected to announce his county budget proposal on Monday, March 14.  The $2.7 billion proposal for PG County includes a $50 million economic development package.  The development plan focuses on attracting businesses back to PG County. Baker’s proposal will outline modest increases for schools, police and firefighting, along with many agency cuts and the continuation of the salary freeze for county employees; some of Baker’s spending cuts could initiate moderate reductions in social services.

From the Washington Post article: 

In a meeting with Washington Post editors and reporters Thursday, Baker (D) said he would offset spending increases and reduce the county’s $77 million budget deficit for fiscal 2012 by forcing across-the-board cuts for most agencies and continuing a wage freeze for the county’s 6,000 employees.

Baker, who said his administration already had begun talks with the public employee unions, declined to provide additional details. However, he said he would pay for new recruiting classes for the police and fire departments.

The additional schools funding would not dent the $21 million gap the school system is facing since Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) released his budget last month.

Instead, Baker will propose spending one-time funds from a $116 million current budget surplus to help schools pay for teacher training, evaluation and national certification and to encourage buyouts for educators who are perceived to be a drag on the system.

“We need to send a signal to the wider community that we are serious about education,” he said.

Baker also plans to outline a series of financial incentives to draw development to the county, particularly to the Metro stations. Areas of focus will be the stations at Branch Avenue, Largo, Naylor Road and New Carrollton. To further his outreach to the business community, Baker is expected to propose the streamlining of the county’s economic development agencies and permit processes, which have been criticized as too complex and prone to delay.

According to Baker, some of his proposed cutbacks in county spending may reduce social services. This could cause a problem for many PG County residents, who depend on these services as a result of the recession. Baker is hoping to work closely with religious institutions to continue needed services.

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