Around The Region

March 19, 2009

Budget action awaits possible U.S. funds

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Maryland lawmakers delayed action on major budget decisions yesterday as hopes were raised at the last minute that the state could receive additional federal stimulus funds because of a sharp uptick in the unemployment rate. Gov. Martin O'Malley's office said it now expects to be eligible for about $90 million in extra Medicaid funding next year, on top of $3.7 billion already anticipated as part of the stimulus package. The Medicaid formula is dependent on the state's unemployment rate, which climbed to a 16-year high of more than 6 percent in January. The extra money could mean fewer spending cuts are needed to balance the budget. Lawmakers began combing through the budget but postponed action on big-ticket items, including $80 million in cuts to localities for maintaining highways and roads.

Laura Smitherman

Public's help sought in hunt for missing teen

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Baltimore County police said yesterday that a search of a trash collection facility in Chase failed to turn up information about a missing 16-year-old Baltimore girl, and they asked the public's help in finding her. Investigators think that Rochelle Denise Battle of the 2800 block of Boarman Ave. might have taken a bus from Eastpoint Mall to Eastern Boulevard and Old Eastern Avenue between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. March 6, police said. Acting on information they had received, police began searching Ace Roll-Off Services in the 200 block of Earls Road on Friday. The search ended Sunday. Residents in the area are asked to call police at 410-307-2020 if they saw anything unusual the night of March 6.

Anne Arundel teachers protest possible cuts

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More than 800 Anne Arundel County teachers protested against possible cuts to lesson-planning time, increased class sizes and staff reductions yesterday outside the county schools headquarters in Annapolis - a protest that carried over into the school board meeting. Carrying signs that said "Reward Education" and "Respect," the teachers lined Riva Road and then filed into the meeting. Tim Mennuti, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, which is negotiating with the school system for a new contract, said the teachers are "frustrated." The current three-year contract expires in June. The county school board and Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell released a statement regarding contract negotiations: "It is our hope that we will be able to agree on a compensation package that fairly rewards our teachers even in these difficult economic times."

Nicole Fuller

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