During an interview on the Mark Steiner show on WEAA-FM, Governor O’Malley highlighted a number of issues that will be discussed during the 90 day General Assembly Session. Comments on issues of importance to counties are summarized below.
Three State Shortfalls and Possible Ways to Address Them
The Governor states that the State is facing shortfall in three areas: 1) General Fund; 2) Infrastructure; and 3) Water/Wastewater Infrastructure. He commented that these shortfalls could be addressed through an increase in the sales tax, gas tax, and Bay Restoration Fee.
Education Funding and Maintenance of Effort
The Governor stated that although funding has not been as dramatic in the last two years, the State has given record high amounts of funding for education. With respect to school construction, the proposed $370 million in FY 2013 would be the largest sum committed since the FY 2008 budget.
With respect to MoE, the Governor commented that roughly half of funding for schools comes from the State and half comes from the counties. “What has occurred is that as budgetary pressures have increased, some counties, not all, have tried to find ways to do less. We can’t allow counties to do less on their end.”
When asked whether he would support efforts to fix MoE, he responded yes, you could count on his support and that he looks forward to working with presiding officers to do so.
The Governor stated that we have had a number of meetings and will continue to do so. The State has been moving methodically, openly, and transparently to determine where remaining green prints and ag prints are located. We’ve got to protect these areas. Next logical extension is areas in center, those areas which make the most sense to grow and those areas that makes the least sense. The State is not going to finance expensive, damaging, and counterproductive sprawl like what may have occurred when we did not have sound planning and maps.