Lawmaker backs bigger city share of Md. grants

October 17, 2007|By James Drew | James Drew,Sun Reporter

A Baltimore City lawmaker says he will introduce legislation to give the city and other relatively poor jurisdictions a greater share of state grant dollars.

Del. Keith E. Haynes, a Democrat, says he wants to change the formula of a program designed to account for differences in the ability of governments to raise revenue from local income taxes.

His bill would increase the total that Baltimore City receives under the disparity grant program from $78 million to $107 million, he said.

Haynes, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the special session set to start Oct. 29 is an "opportunity to strategically leverage this unique opportunity to fight for Baltimore."

"What's driving this is the need for additional funding. We need to take care of the fiscal needs of our local jurisdictions," Haynes said.

According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the disparity grant program provides local jurisdictions with an amount equal to what would be needed to raise per capita income tax revenue to 75 percent of the state average.

In 1992 the state began providing disparity grants to jurisdictions with per capita local income tax revenue less than 70 percent of the statewide average. Legislation enacted in 1996 increased that percentage to 75 percent.

Raising it to 85 percent would increase spending on the disparity grant program by $90 million, to $205 million next year.

In addition to Baltimore City, Allegany, Cecil, Dorchester, Garrett, Prince George's and Somerset counties would receive additional grant money under Haynes' proposal.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a former Baltimore mayor, has not taken a position on the legislation, said spokesman Rick Abbruzzese.

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