Maryland FiRST Receives Funding in Governor’s Proposed Budget

The Governor’s FY 2019 Capital Budget includes $32,240,000 for the public safety communications system.

As described in Governor Hogan’s 2019 Capital Budget, his allocation of funds to the Department of Information Technology include $10,500,000 to continue construction of a statewide unified public safety radio communications system, and $21,740,000 to complete construction of a statewide unified public radio system.


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MD FiRST coverage map courtesy of the Department of Information Technology.

MACo has advocated for continued funding for the MD FiRST program in the past. The system is critical for several Maryland counties that use it on a daily basis as their primary public safety radio network. It will also be essential for all counties statewide to communicate with each other, the state, and regional and federal partners during response to regional emergencies.

More information about MD FiRST

Prior coverage: MACo Asks Governor To Fully Fund Lingering Budget Items (2016)

The Capital Budget Process

The General Assembly may add or subtract funding from the capital budget. The General Assembly may not take final action on the capital budget until they have passed the operating budget. Following the General Assembly’s passage of the capital budget, the capital budget bill must be signed by the Governor and is subject to the Governor’s line-item veto power.

As described by the Department of Legislative Services:

Unlike the operating budget, in acting on the capital budget bill, the legislature
may amend the budget to add and delete projects from the capital bond program. The legislature may also increase project funding and add contingent, conditional, or restrictive language to the bill regarding how the funds may be applied.

For more information, see Maryland’s Budget Process from the Department of Legislative Services and the FY 2019 Governor’s Budget.

Here is a direct link to the Governor’s Proposed 2019 Capital Budget.






Breakdown of $365 M for School Construction in Governor’s Budget

In Maryland, counties and the State government share responsibility for building new schools. Strong and smart school construction funding is a MACo 2018 legislative priority.

The State’s commitment to school construction funding needs to remain strong and smart – to best serve the modern needs of our schoolchildren, educators, and communities.

County governments share responsibility for financing K-12 school construction with the State, whose funding depends on statutory formulas and regulations.

The Governor’s FY 2019 budget includes details on its capital funding for school construction facilities.

As described in the Budget Highlights for School Construction:

At the governor’s specific direction, the administration is making the largest investment in school construction in the past decade. School construction projects total $365 million, accounting for more than one-third of FY 2019 general obligation bond funding:

  • $314 million for the traditional public school construction program,
  • $40 million for supplemental funding for districts with high enrollment growth or relocatable classrooms,
  • $7.6 million for the Aging Schools Program, and
  • $3.5 million for improvements to non-public school facilities.
  • $1.4 billion in school construction funding has been authorized during the Hogan administration.

The budget also includes $20 million to meet the state’s annual commitment to the multiyear Baltimore City School revitalization and reconstruction program.

The State Senate begins the budget consideration process this year. For the capital budget, the Budget and Taxation Committee’s Subcommittee on Capital Budget has scheduled a briefing.

Details for the Capital Fiscal Briefing:

  • Tuesday February 6, 2018, 3:00 P.M.
  • 3 West, Miller Office Building
  • 11 Bladen St, Annapolis, MD 21401
  • Watch live from the General Assembly’s website on the day of the hearing (links bottom right hand corner)

County Electeds, Mark Your Calendar for a Federal Tax Reform Update


Every Maryland county is a member of the National Association of Counties and all county elected officials are invited to participate in the monthly Association update call for the northeast region of the United States.

naco logo

NACo Northeast Regional Conference Call


Welcome and Introductions: Hon. Christian Leinbach – Chairman, Berks County Commissioners (PA) / NACo NE US Representative

NACo Legislative Updates: 

  • Deborah Cox – Legislative Director
  • Jack Peterson – Associate Legislative Director – Finance, Pensions and Intergovernmental Affairs  
    • Tax Reform – What it Means to Counties and our Citizens?
      • NACo’s positive impact on the final law
        • Tax Free Muni Bonds protected
        • Private Equity bonds protected exclusive of stadiums
        • $10,000 property tax deduction
        • Other positive NACo impacts
      • What does the final bill actually do?

Upcoming NACo Webinars: (NEW INFORMATION)

NACo Conferences:


Article Explores School Maintenance Funding Gaps

An article in Governing describes gaps in infrastructure in the nation’s schools.

From Governing,

Nationwide, state and local school districts are spending around $99 billion per year on capital investment and maintenance and operation of facilities, according to the 2016 State of Our Schools Report, compiled by the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities and the Center for Green Schools. The report suggests an additional $46 billion per year is necessary to properly maintain and upgrade facilities and build new schools to keep up with enrollment patterns.

In it’s last meeting, the Maryland 21st Century School Facilities Commission reviewed a recommendation on maintenance that states:

Preventative maintenance is critical – there is a need to require school systems to perform required regular maintenance and for the State to develop required maintenance schedules based on industry standards and collect and monitor performance data through a comprehensive maintenance management system that is integrated with the facility assessment information system.

. . .

Require local school systems to report annually on their preventative maintenance schedules and the preventative maintenance measures they have carried out on all major functional systems in each of their school buildings.

The Commission’s final report is expected Monday, January 22, for a briefing on the Commission to the House Appropriations Committee.

More information:

Briefing information:

  • Monday January 22, 2018, 1 PM
  • 21st Century School Facilities Commission – Full Committee Briefing
  • Room 120, House Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401-1991



U.S. Senate Hearing Focuses on Water Infrastructure Needs, Local Role

The National Association of Counties representative testifies before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works full committee hearing, “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges.”

NACo Associate Legislative Director Julie Ufner testifies before the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee to discuss the role counties play in strengthening America’s water infrastructure, and the importance of the Water Resources Development Act to counties as they fulfill our water resources responsibilities.

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will focus on all the ways counties work with water. Mark your calendars and join us on August 15-18, 2018 to discuss “Water, Water, Everywhere.”

From the health of the Bay and Maryland’s waterways to the infrastructure, treatment, and regulations that ensure safe and healthy water flows through our pipes, county governments are keeping our residents afloat. Conference sessions will discuss the Bay, water infrastructure, watermen and oyster/fishery/habitat issues, floods and other natural disasters, and ways to put the wind back in the sails of a tight budget.


Congressmen Speak on Cyber, Critical Infrastructure, and Counties

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland addresses the National Association of Counties State Association Directors on the importance of local government and the threat of cyber attacks on the energy grid.

At the National Association of Counties annual meeting of state county association executives, NACo hosted Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland and Congressman John Carter of Texas, two former county officials who are currently co-sponsoring a bill that would examine the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of energy infrastructure.

NACo Executive Director Matt Chase speaks with Congressman Carter of Texas and Congressman Ruppersberger of Maryland.

The Congressmen spoke about their working relationship as an example of bi-partisanship and the strong ties they keep to local officials in their home districts.

Speaking about Maryland, Congressman Ruppersberger shared how his district, the 2nd Congressional District in Maryland is home to the National Security Agency and Fort Meade.

He spoke about what keeps him up at night, topics that include the threat of nuclear attack, and the use of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. He described how cyber attacks on American businesses weaken the national economy by billions of dollars a year, and how a cyber attack on the energy grid could be used against the U.S.

Noting his regular communication with local officials, and referencing his service as Baltimore County Executive and former President of MACo, Ruppersberger acknowledged that local government encompasses the concerns of constituents  whose priorities are their homes, their school, and their safety.

For more information, see Ruppersberger Introduces House Companion to Senate Energy Grid Security Measure.

Infrastructure, Health, Environment Issues Top National County Association Agenda

The National Association of Counties (NACo) priorities for 2018 include infrastructure, substance abuse treatment, and a better definition of waters of the US.

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NACo represents county governments in policy debates in the nation’s capital.

From NACo:

In addition to preserving local decision making, protecting counties from unfunded mandates and local preemption and strengthening the federal-state-local partnership, NACo will focus on the following:


For more information see the full description of NACo’s priorities.

Executive Order Aims to Expedite Rural Internet Expansion

Broadband is a subject included in a report from the Department of Agriculture, and the topic of an executive order from the White House.

Quick Links:

As reported by B&C, White House Makes Rural Broadband a Priority, the Department of Agriculture has officially dubbed “Reliable and affordable high-speed connectivity” as a key to helping rural America.

As reported by Fox 4 News in, President Trump signs executive order to expand broadband in rural areas:

Trump was set to make two moves on rural broadband Monday, with plans to sign an executive order and a memo that the White House described as “incremental,” but the start of an effort to make progress on the issue. White House officials said all work was in the early stages and did not offer an overall timeline. Officials noted the price tag for rural broadband expansion has been estimated at $80 billion, but said the administration had not determined a cost.

MACo and representatives of rural counties have participated in Maryland’s Rural Broadband Task Force. For more information, contact Natasha Mehu of MACo.


Bill Strikes Alternate Route to School Facilities

Senator Rosapepe’s pre-filed bill would create new options for alternative financing in school construction, including allowing school boards to contract with counties or private entities to design-build-operate-finance-& maintain schools.

Maryland School Overcrowding Reduction Act of 2018 (SB 92 – Pre-Filed 2018) proposes several changes to existing alternative financing laws for school construction. The bill has been pre-filed in advance of the General Assembly Session that begins January 10.

In general, Maryland counties seek and support a range of tools to tackle school construction in a period of high construction costs and critical education facility needs.

MACo has cited lack of clarity in current school construction alternative financing laws vis-a-vis maintenance of effort rules as a hurdle for counties that may have otherwise experimented with alternative financing.

SB 92 expands on existing alternative financing options and allow counties and school boards to take different roles in alternative financing. The legislation maintains a county government hand in the approval of alternative financing arrangements, even as it creates new authorities for school boards.

The legislation would create a public school facility construction innovation incentive program in the State, something that may benefit exploration of these arrangements.

Senator Rosapepe of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties has discussed school construction topics with county government representatives at MACo Conferences.

For more information, see The General Assembly’s bill page for SB 92, which includes links for the bill text.


State Retirement Agency Responds to Questions on Investment Performance

The State Retirement Agency responds to several questions posed by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services about its investment performance and strategies. 

The State Retirement Agency responded to several questions on investments in December of 2017. Subjects of the questions included:

  • 2017 return performance in relation to the policy benchmarks
  • Actions being taken to mitigate those factors impacting the fiscal 2018 returns
  • Use of strategic adjustments to asset allocation during fiscal 2017 and the impact on investment performance
  • The risk profile of the system’s asset allocation

An article in the Baltimore Business Journal, Why Maryland’s $50 billion pension fund lagged amid a booming 2017 (paywalled) references some of the Agency’s responses to these questions.

Read the full Response from the State Retirement Agency.