MACo to Ways and Means Committee: Prioritize Schools, Local Health Departments, NextGen 9-1-1

Earlier today, January 29, MACo’s 2019 President, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, First Vice President, Baltimore City Council Member Sharon Green Middleton, Associate Director Kevin Kinnally, and Executive Director Michael Sanderson presented MACo’s 2019 Legislative Initiatives to the House Ways and Means Committee. The MACo panel followed Department of Legislative Services’ analysts, who presented a wealth of information contained in the report, Overview of State Aid to Local Governments: Fiscal 2020 Allowance.

2019 Legislative Initiatives - sml

County Executive Glassman discussed the importance of the State maintaining its commitment to Pre-K – 12 education in order to meet the needs of a diverse student body and to prepare Maryland’s children for a global economy.

According to County Executive Glassman:

MACo advocates for a partnership approach to meeting the education and facility needs of Maryland’s students that fairly balances state responsibilities with local obligations, and seeks equitable and efficient solutions to meet current expenses and future goals.

Council Member Green Middleton expressed the importance of reprioritizing public health. Local Health Departments are the State’s frontline for public health services and education. However, over the years, dramatic and lasting funding reductions, as well as threatened cost shifts, have endangered their capacity to provide these crucial services in our communities and have forced them to do more with dramatically fewer resources.

According to Council Member Green Middleton:

For example, our current FY19 funding is 23% – or about $16 million – LOWER than it was in FY08. Our needs have increased substantially in the last 11 years – but our funding is significantly lower than it was a decade ago.

These cuts have been exacerbated by the opioid epidemic that continues to plague the state.

The deadliness of the opioids that have permeated our communities makes it even more critical that local health departments and associated treatment services – beds, facilities, providers – are available to meet our residents’ needs on-demand.

County Executive Glassman also stressed the imperativeness of Maryland accelerating the implementation of a Next Generation 9-1-1 that our residents expect and deserve.

With advances in technology, the emergency communication networks built four decades ago are becoming less efficient, less technologically advanced and, as a result, less able to provide the public with 9-1-1 services on newer technologies. In order to close this gap and benefit from the monumental advancements that are taking place in commercial communications, it is imperative for the State to advance the 9-1-1 infrastructure across Maryland—Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) provides that opportunity.

According to County Executive Glassman:

Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

9-1-1 is a county responsibility, but bringing the whole state forward together is going to require your help.

You can read more about MACo’s 2019 Legislative Initiatives here.