On March 1, Howard County government held a press conference to vocalize the devastating financial impacts the Governor’s proposed pension shift would have on the county government services. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman was joined by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sydney Cousin, County Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty, Board of Education Chair Sandra French, Police Chief William McMahon, Fire Chief William Goddard, Director of Recreation & Parks John Byrd, Library Director Valerie Gross, union leaders and members at the Harper’s Choice Police Sub-station.
Executive Ulman stated:
“We know these are difficult times and that we all need to share the burden, but we’ve been doing that. Since I took office five years ago, Howard County has experienced a $41.3 million reduction in state funding. This $17.2 million bill the Governor wants to pass along to Howard County will have devastating effects across the board.”
County services that would be impacted include: public safety, library hours, and transit services.
Dr. Cousin echoed Ulman’s arguments, stating that education would be significantly impacted by the budgetary implications of the shift.
“I’ve spent the last 45 years in education, and I can’t remember seeing a hit like this or a state proposal that posed a greater threat to local public schools. This will have a significant impact on our educational programs and our students.”
To put the magnitude of this proposal in perspective, Board of Education Chairman Sandra French equated a $16.2 million* cut to:
• 225 classroom teachers, OR
• Bus transportation for 32,400 students, OR
• The K-12 art and music education programs, OR
• High school interscholastic athletics and K-12 gifted and talented programs