County wins $214 million in state funds Money is about par with previous years despite new delegates

More may be on the way

Public Works board to award $137 million for building schools

April 14, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Without panache, Anne Arundel's delegation to the General Assembly this year brought the county its multimillion-dollar chunk of state handouts.

No more. No less.

Led by Sen. John A. Cade, an influential Republican in State House hallways for 21 years, the otherwise largely inexperienced delegation secured $214.1 million from the state budget for such things as paying teacher pensions and dredging the Upper Magothy River.

State legislators and county officials say Anne Arundel got what it requested -- despite a session marked by internal politics over divisive school legislation and a dearth of experience brought on by the recent departure of three knowledgeable lawmakers with a combined 38 years of State House tenure.

County legislators, who waged a partisan scrap this year over a bill that would have allowed County Executive John G. Gary to appoint the school board, said Mr. Gary will not be able to blame the state for local funding problems when he presents his budget May 1.

"He can't say that, because of us, he has to raise taxes or cut services," said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat who opposed the school board legislation. "We succeeded despite the politics. He should be very pleased."

Gary, a Republican, was unavailable for comment Friday. His liaison to the State House, Diane Hutchins, said, "I think we had a very good year. The delegation was extremely helpful in bringing the county money."

More may be on the way when the state Board of Public Works meets May 1 to divvy up a $137 million fund for school construction.

The board -- composed of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon -- considering a county request for $3.3 million to expedite the Jacobsville Elementary and Meade-area school projects.

Del. Joan Cadden, a Brooklyn Park Democrat and one of two county legislators on the House Appropriations Committee, has been lobbying for the additional money. And she can hold up her voting record for leverage. Ms. Cadden supported the governor's legislative centerpiece -- the construction of two football stadiums.

"I think we've got a very good chance," she said. "We should be able to come home with the money."

Anne Arundel has received $2.4 million for planned school construction projects, $1.2 million each for Broadneck High School and Ridgeway High School. Also, the county won $850,000 for new air conditioning and a science center at Severna Park High School.

Most of the state money is distributed by formula, but local delegates managed to win $1.45 million in bond money to restore three landmarks, the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, London Town House and Gardens, and Wiley H. Bates High School.

Legislators had asked for $2 million for the Bates renovation project, which has been on the drawing board for more than 10 years.

The state approved $1 million this year with a bonus: If plans to turn the 64-year-old Annapolis school into a community center proceed, it could receive $2 million more over the next two years.

Other highlights include:

Glen Burnie Detention Center: The county received $12.1 million to begin building a 400-bed jail on Ordnance Road. Last year, the state gave Anne Arundel $1 million to begin planning the minimum-security jail, which is expected to open in fall 1997.

Schools: The $130.3 million school allocation is 2.1 percent more than the county got last year. In addition, Anne Arundel Community College will get $662,000 for a fine arts building, a parking lot and planning for a gymnasium.

Dredging: Anne Arundel will receive $574,500 for six river and creek dredging projects, a dinghy landing and moorings in Annapolis, and development of a regional site for dredged sediment.

Before the session, the Gary administration worried that an inexperienced county delegation would not know how to work the State House back channels to bring in money.

Five of the county's 13 delegates are in their first terms, and another was appointed to her seat in 1993. And two of the county's five senators are new to the office.

Before leaving in 1994, Mr. Gary was a House insider during his 12 years there, gaining a reputation for hard work and a shrewd financial sense as an Appropriations Committee member. On the Senate side, 13-year Democratic veterans Michael J. Wagner and Gerald W. Winegrad departed that year.

Ms. Cadden, the county's only delegate on the capital budget subcommittee, said several cost-conscious freshman Republican delegates have allowed idealism to cloud a central State House reality: Pork isn't pork if it helps the county.

Del. Victoria L. Schade, a Pasadena Republican, voted against the $250,000 bond bill to benefit Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis. The year before, she voted against a $1 million bond for the Glen Burnie Town Center, a major Gary administration redevelopment initiative.

"I think you have to look at the merit of each project," Ms. Schade said.

"I don't care if it's for Anne Arundel, Baltimore or Prince George's. If it's a good project, I'll vote for it. If it's a waste, I won't," she said.

Ms. Cadden said, "They vote no on everything."

But members of both parties agree on the reason that Anne Arundel has not lost a step in the money race: Mr. Cade, the House minority leader and Budget and Taxation Committee member.

"We have a great deal of confidence in Jack Cade," Mr. Jimeno said. "We all do some work on it, but the credit rests with him."

With a fractious and highly partisan year behind them, many delegates are looking to Mr. Gary for calming words.

Without them, they warn, the delegation would pick up next year where members left off -- at each other's throats -- and could harm the county's financial prospects.

"John knows how it works here, and I think it's up to the county executive to provide some unity and leadership," Mr. Jimeno said.

Pub Date: 4/14/96

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