$20 million sought as DALP 'net'

March 25, 1995|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Jean Thompson contributed to this article.

Attempting to soften the blow of his decision to kill a monthly subsidy program for the disabled poor, Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday asked the General Assembly to appropriate nearly $20 million to help former recipients find shelter, obtain medical care or receive federal assistance.

The governor introduced a $64.5 million supplement to his original $14.5 billion budget, which lawmakers had pared to $14.3 billion earlier in the session, in part by cutting several spending initiatives that were priorities for Mr. Glendening.

In his new request, the governor tried once again to reward the three big jurisdictions he carried in the November election, sending $5.5 million to the city of Baltimore and $5 million each to Prince George's and Montgomery counties for schools, libraries, police protection and urban renewal projects.

Mr. Glendening also added $26 million to his budget for school construction, raising the total in the budget to $106 million. The legislature had killed the governor's original $20 million school construction request because lawmakers did not like the source of funds he chose -- a surplus that had built up in a state-run auto insurance program.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee yesterday approved the bulk of the governor's supplemental request. It goes to the House Appropriations Committee today. Differences between the two houses will be worked out by a joint conference committee once the overall budget is adopted early next week.

The biggest item the Senate committee rejected yesterday was Mr. Glendening's proposal to increase the economic opportunities "Sunny Day Fund" from its historic level of $5 million to $30 million. The money is used by the state to sweeten deals with businesses considering moving to or expanding in Maryland.

Earlier the Senate agreed to a level of $15 million, and the committee stuck to that figure yesterday.

The governor's $20 million effort to provide a "safety net" for former recipients of the Disability Assistance and Loan Program did not appease Budget and Taxation Committee Chairwoman Barbara A. Hoffman, who complained that the replacement funds are insufficient.

"What is clear is, it is an inadequate amount of money," she said.

Mr. Glendening has said repeatedly that the state no longer can afford $35 million for the DALP program, which makes monthly payments of $157 to about 20,000 poor and disabled people. The payments will end June 30.

Advocates for the homeless and other DALP proponents say the cost of incarcerating former recipients who commit crimes, or placing them in mental hospitals, or expanding shelters to house them, will be far more than the original program.

In spreading money to the three jurisdictions that provided the votes to push him into office, Mr. Glendening proposed that:

* Baltimore receive $1.5 million to finance "reconstitution" of five city schools, including Patterson and Douglass high schools, which must either improve or face a state takeover. The financing for the improvements had become a sticking point in negotiations between the city and the state Department of Education.

"This is excellent news," Phillip H. Farfel, Baltimore's school board president, said yesterday. If the legislature approves the funds, he said, "They would be tied together with the [reform] plans that will be submitted for those schools and approved by the state. We want to make sure we are using dollars for things we believe will improve the performance of our children."

The city also would receive $2 million to renovate its police headquarters, $1 million for police foot patrols, and $1 million for a summer program at five high schools for gifted and talented students.

* Prince George's County would receive $2 million to keep open six county libraries that were slated to be closed after County Executive Wayne K. Curry discovered his predecessor, Mr. Glendening, had left him with a budget deficit of more than $100 million.

Sen. Ida G. Ruben, a Montgomery County Democrat, and other committee members complained that it was unfair for taxpayers in other jurisdictions to subsidize libraries in Prince George's, where voters have imposed a property tax limit that prohibits the county from raising enough money to cover its costs.

A move to cut the library aid failed on a 10-3 vote.

Prince George's also would receive $2 million for school improvements designed to help the county end court-ordered busing, plus $1 million to fight drug-related crimes.

* Montgomery County would receive $5 million to acquire property and to relocate occupants of buildings to be demolished as part of a Silver Spring urban renewal project.

Among the smaller items Mr. Glendening added to his budget were: $50,000 to clean, repair and restore about 15 military monuments around the state; and $35,000 to the Somerset County Board of Education to pay for a boat to carry students between Smith Island and the mainland.

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