Grasmick's plan to increase education spending opposed Miller says state has 'pressing needs'

October 23, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

A plan by Maryland's schools superintendent to increase spending on kindergarten through 12th-grade education by about $45 million next year is running into opposition from the president of the state Senate.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the state, even with a healthy budget surplus, should not commit itself to such a large increase in aid to local school systems.

"It's nice to make the counties happy in an election year, but we're state elected officials, and the state has pressing needs," said Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat. "If we have money to scatter around willy-nilly, then perhaps it should be returned to the taxpayers."

Addressing a task force studying education spending, state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick outlined her plan to send more than $45 million a year in new aid to local school systems. The money would be aimed at students living in poverty.

Under her proposal, $9 million would go to Montgomery County to help the soaring number of county students who speak English as a second language.

Prince George's County, which has been seeking a big increase in state funding, also would receive $9 million.

In coming weeks, Grasmick and other state officials are expected to propose additional aid for Prince George's -- largely school construction money -- to help the county in the Washington suburbs cope with the expected end of court-ordered busing there.

A lobbyist for Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry said he was encouraged by Grasmick's proposal yesterday. "It looks like it's going in the right direction," said Leonard L. Lucchi.

The plan also won support from Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who called it "a very positive step."

House leaders, including Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., an Allegany County Democrat, have endorsed Grasmick's proposal. They hope to win majority support for an education spending plan so that the regional fighting over education aid at the end of this year's General Assembly session won't be repeated.

The task force studying education will make recommendations on spending, and Gov. Parris N. Glendening will then make his budget proposal.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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