School funding request is rebuked

Delegates deem McComas' appeal for more money inappropriate

General Assembly


An attempt last week by a Harford delegate to secure more money for county schools was rebuked by the chairman of the county delegation, who apologized to House leaders and said the request was out of line.

Del. Susan K. McComas, a Republican, said Harford's modest school construction request had been overshadowed by other counties that "asked for the moon and the stars." She offered an amendment to Senate Bill 370 on Monday that would add about $6 million to Harford at the expense of five counties that received significantly more.

Del. Barry Glassman, a Republican who chairs the Harford delegation, asked his House colleagues to vote down the amendment.

"The good delegate should've said `I' instead of `we,'" he told House leaders, according to a recorded account of the proceedings posted on the General Assembly Web site. "Clearly this was not brought before the Harford County delegation, and she does not reflect the sentiment of my delegation."

The chief of staff for County Executive David R. Craig said the administration was disappointed by the quashing of the measure, calling it "politics as usual."

"There could've been an effort put forward to argue why Harford County should have part of that additional allotment," said Aaron N. Tomarchio. "This is a perfect example of how people lose out."

Harford is slated to receive $11 million of the $300 million set aside for school construction across Maryland. The county's request paled in comparison with jurisdictions such as Baltimore County, which asked for $110 million for renovations, and Washington County, which asked for $21 million.

Harford did not get any of the additional $91 million that was dispersed last week.

Glassman asked McComas to apologize for her amendment. In an interview Friday, he said there was no chance of getting additional money for Harford so late in the session and that McComas ran the risk of burning bridges with delegates from the counties that she suggested taking money from.

"Politically, it was very foolish," Glassman said. "We're an eight-member delegation. We get our money and do our things by diplomacy and networking.

Longtime Del. Joanne S. Parrott, a Republican, said members were "listening in aghast" as McComas offered the amendment, and she agreed with Glassman that it alienated powerful politicians. "She has to learn how to maneuver to get those extra dollars," Parrott said.

The proposed amendment drew laughter from the crowd, and McComas acknowledged taking money from other counties would not be viewed favorably.

But she noted that Harford was one of the fastest-growing counties in Maryland and has been forced to forward-fund school construction projects at Bel Air and Edgewood high schools. The new jobs expected at Aberdeen Proving Ground in the coming years will put a "tremendous amount of pressure on school infrastructure," she said.

"Please can you give us a little love and throw a little money our way?" she said. "We really could use some help here. ... We didn't get any of the additional funds that were out there."

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