Prison teachers to stay on job Glendening bows to critics, abandons cut in program staff

March 19, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron and Peter Jensen | Thomas W. Waldron and Peter Jensen,SUN STAFF

Bowing to legislative wishes, Gov. Parris N. Glendening put money back in the budget yesterday to keep 51 prison teachers on the job.

Legislators had been sharply critical of the governor's plan to reduce the state's prison education programs to the minimum required by the federal government. The cut was shortsighted, they argued, because most inmates eventually leave prison and try to return to the work force.

"I'm very glad he did it," said Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Mr. Glendening's $35.3 million "supplemental" budget, delivered to the legislature last night, includes nearly $3 million to keep the prison education programs operating through the next budget year.

Lawmakers had complained about many of the cuts in the governor's original $14.7 billion budget, and his supplemental spending plan responds to many of their criticisms.

The additional budget essentially recycles money that the legislature is in the process of cutting from his original budget proposal. The two-step process is necessary because under the state constitution, the legislature does not have the authority to restore money to a program even if it cuts spending elsewhere.

"Many of these items were in response to legislative requests," said Frederick W. Puddester, a Glendening aide. "In some cases, they were a lot less than what people were asking for."

The governor's new proposal restores $2.8 million to keep employed more than 200 aides who provide in-home care to nearly 2,000 disabled poor persons. Mr. Glendening had initially sought to lay off the workers who feed, clean and perform household chores for the disabled and replace them with less expensive private caretakers.

The disabled clients protested, many saying they were worried about security and quality of care from lower-paid replacements.

Mr. Glendening later announced the layoffs were a "mistake."

The supplemental budget also includes:

* $600,000 to provide General Public Assistance payments to pregnant women. Even with the additional money, the governor is still cutting the program from $1.8 million to $900,000 in next year's budget.

* $1 million to bolster aid to community colleges statewide.

* $1.9 million to hire 30 more prison guards at the Maryland House of Correction Annex in Jessup. The spending was prompted by complaints from employee unions concerned about inmate disciplinary problems at the prison.

* $79,000 to restore a Department of Environment program that enforces limits on noise pollution.

The budget does not include any new money for Baltimore schools, something city lawmakers had sought to help negotiate a partial state takeover of the system.

But the governor did include $500,000 for a mentoring program for Baltimore County schools with high minority student population.

The grant was seen by many legislators as a reward for the county's strong support of the governor's plan to help build two football stadiums in Maryland.

The proposal also directs more money into the so-called Systems Reform Initiative, an interagency proposal to help children and families.

The initiative helps pay for such things as foster care and family preservation programs.

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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