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Glendening proposes spending increase

January 18, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening will present a 2001 budget plan today that boosts spending for construction of schools and higher education buildings.

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The proposed $19.6 billion budget also gives state employees a promised 8 percent raise over the next two years and adds about 40 new jobs at the state prison complex south of Hagerstown.

Glendening will deliver the budget and his annual State of the State address to the Maryland General Assembly today.

The $19.6 billion budget is 9 percent higher than the current budget. But even with the big increase, Glendening still set aside about $1 billion in savings to carry into next year's budget, including $400 million to pay for the final two installments on the 10 percent income tax reduction approved two years ago.

Glendening proposed almost $1.2 billion for Maryland colleges and universities, a 12 percent increase over the current budget. The governor said that will enable colleges to hold tuition increases to just 2.1 percent.

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His spending plan also calls for $167 million to go to public school construction and $153 million for higher education buildings, he said.

"This is an education budget," he said.

Details, including planning money for the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center, will be in Glendening's proposed capital spending plan to be released next week, the governor's spokesman said.

The operating budget states the university's goal of recruiting 937 students to Hagerstown by 2004.

Community colleges would get a 15 percent increase in operating money. For Hagerstown Community College, that would mean a total of $4.8 million.

Glendening is earmarking $11.7 million toward reducing class sizes and $9.4 million for new computers and telephones in classrooms.

Recruiting and keeping teachers is a top priority in the budget, which calls for $24.3 million in added tax credits, signing bonuses, training and awards.

For the first time, the state is offering a significant amount to private schools - $6 million for textbooks.

The only tax relief offered in the budget is $3 million to begin phasing out the state inheritance tax.

In Maryland, the governor has complete control over the design of the budget. The General Assembly can only make cuts.

The legislature likely will have to cut $67.7 million in order to meet self-imposed guidelines on budget growth.

Glendening has already turned down many worthy proposals and is still getting requests for state money, he said.

"I had legislators stand up and ask for more this morning," Glendening said.

State aid to local governments would increase by 6 percent in the governor's plan.

Washington County would see a modest six-tenths of a percent increase in state aid over last year for a total of $84.66 million.

State aid to Washington County schools will stay about the same because of a funding formula that reflects the county's steady enrollment and economy.

A new form of state aid was created this year because of last year's electricity deregulation law. Washington County will get $179,000 from the state to make up for lost property taxes on electricity generation equipment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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