Clinton budget extends rail lines in Md., but promises little for federal workers More job reductions likely

pay raise is limited to 3%

March 20, 1996|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - President Clinton's budget contains a generous dose of money for Maryland and dismal news for the 300,000 federal employees who live here.

The $1.64 trillion spending plan includes mass transit funds, hundreds of millions of dollars for federal construction projects in the state and a big boost in a space program important to Maryland.

For federal workers, there would be a 3 percent pay raise, a requirement phased in over three years that they increase their contribution to the pension system by one-half percent of their salary and the promise of more job reductions.

The big question is which Maryland projects will survive at the hands of a Republican Congress and in the face of competition among lawmakers for the limited money available for projects in their home states.

"It's going to be tough," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat. "But had the president not proposed them, Senator [Paul S.] Sarbanes and I couldn't have gotten them in the budget."

Added Mr. Sarbanes: "We have to work to keep them there."

The budget would provide:

$267 million for an assortment of federal-government construction projects mostly in the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

$200 million to continue expansion of the Washington subway system into Maryland and Virginia.

$50 million for the MARC commuter rail system by far its largest federal allocation to buy equipment and build a 13-mile spur from the Martinsburg-Washington line at Point of Rocks into Frederick.

$20.8 million for Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

$7.2 million in operating subsidies for the MARC system and Baltimore's mass transit system.

Another $10.2 million to complete extension of Baltimore's light-rail line to Hunt Valley, BWI Airport and Penn Station.

$16 million for projects at Baltimore's Coast Guard shipyard.

A 9 percent increase, to $1.4 billion, in NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, the main program at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

Last summer, a key House subcommittee voted to close Goddard and to move its work to California. The move, subsequently overturned, threatened 11,000 Maryland jobs.

While Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat, said Mr. Clinton's proposal "protects thousands of jobs" at Goddard, Senator Mikulski said hurdles could still lie ahead.

The budget includes a reduction nationally of an additional 30,000 in the federal civilian work force of 1.9 million. The administration plans to cut a total of 272,900 workers by the end of the decade, in part by turning over their work to the private sector.

Complaining that the number of workers isn't the real issue, John Sturdivant, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees said: "The issue is how much money the taxpayers are paying and how much they are getting. They're paying bigger bucks because things have been privatized."

Pub Date: 3/20/96

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