Lawmakers say the quest for state funds isn't over Officials want money for elementary education

April 09, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

As Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed legislation yesterday to send new state aid to the Baltimore school system, lawmakers from other parts of the state continued to demand similar assistance for their jurisdictions.

Legislators from Prince George's and Montgomery counties complained bitterly about the legislation during the 90-day session that ended Monday, and made it clear they will keep pushing for more state money next year.

"You lose some battles, but our goal is to win the war," declared Del. Nathaniel Exum, a Prince George's Democrat.

The bill signed by the governor yesterday will send $254 million in new state education aid to Baltimore schools over the next five years.

A coalition of lawmakers from suburban Washington and other areas demanded $324 million over that time for the state's 23 counties. But Glendening earmarked only about half that.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry reminded the governor and legislators of their disappointment at a news conference in front of the State House yesterday.

While they had kind words for legislative leaders who helped secure some aid for their counties, Duncan and Curry had little nice to say about Glendening.

Asked by a reporter, Duncan declined pointedly to speculate on what impact the governor's actions would have on his political fortunes in the Washington suburbs -- Glendening's political base.

"The governor has to make his own political decisions," Duncan said.

Glendening has clearly been unsettled by the complaints from Democratic leaders in his political home turf, which have continued steadily the past few weeks.

Yesterday, his staff distributed a fact sheet noting that state education aid to Prince George's and Montgomery counties will go up about 8 percent in the next year, a rate of growth that is much higher than that of the state budget.

"That's a real statement of priorities by the governor and legislature," Glendening said later.

The suburban lawmakers won some support yesterday from House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., who announced he would push next year to increase state primary education spending -- with the money going to areas with the largest number of children in poverty, a goal of the suburban lawmakers.

"To me, that's a priority unmet need," said Taylor, an Allegany County Democrat.

Glendening signed the city schools legislation with Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke standing at his side.

The bill, which goes into effect June 1, transfers control of the troubled school system from the mayor to a new school board, whose members will be jointly selected by the governor and mayor from a list of nominees forwarded by the state board of education.

"No matter how difficult it is, we must start the process of improving education in the city," Glendening said. "The entire state benefits if that is done."

Glendening also signed the bill to reduce state income tax collections by 10 percent over the next five years. The tax cut will begin to go into effect next year, and eventually will mean a loss of about $500 million in state revenue.

A typical family of four, with an annual household income of $40,000, would see its tax bill drop by $52 in 1998. Once the cut is fully in effect, the family would pay $291 less in income tax than it does under current law.

"This will increase jobs and put a little bit more money in the pocket of Marylanders," Glendening said.

Pub Date: 4/09/97

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