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Museum omitted from governor's budget

January 23, 2001

Museum omitted from governor's budget



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening has set aside $33.3 million for building projects in Washington County, nearly half of which are related to education.

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But the one glaring omission in Glendening's proposed fiscal 2002 capital budget was a $3 million request for a Civil War museum in downtown Hagerstown.

As expected, Glendening earmarked $13.3 million for the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

He also set aside $4.3 million for five school construction projects, including $3 million to renovate Williamsport Elementary School.

Other highlights include:

- $7.8 million to revamp the heating and air conditioning system at the Western Maryland Center.

- $2 million for upgrades at Hagerstown's R.C. Willson Water Plant.

- $1.7 million to install digital broadcasting equipment in Washington County.

- $1.5 million to fix the dam at Woodmont Rod and Gun Club.

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- $470,000 to allow Washington County Hospital to finish the third floor of its Walnut Street Community Health Center.

- $307,000 for W House, a Hagerstown drug treatment center for women.

- $439,641 to help San Mar Children's Home build a 12-bed shelter for girls.

"That's really good news," said San Mar Children's Home Executive Director Bruce T. Anderson, who had been unsure about the status of the nonprofit's request.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said it looks like Washington County will get more money this year than last.

Nearby Frederick County, Md., is slated to get $31.1 million for projects.

"There are some good projects in here. There's no question about that," Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said of Washington County's share.

Glendening's entire $1.5 billion capital budget, along with the state's $19.3 billion operating budget, faces cuts by the Maryland General Assembly before it's approved.

"My guess is we'll be able to hold most of these unless the economy takes a major downturn," said Munson, whose Budget and Taxation Committee will scrutinize the budget.

The governor increased capital spending this year statewide because he believes one-time construction costs are a prudent way to spend the state's $375 million surplus.

Glendening made it clear at a press conference Tuesday that he wants to spend the money while it's available to further his education and Smart Growth agendas.

"I feel very confident about this state. I feel good about our prosperity. The way to continue that prosperity is through investment," he said.

Glendening said he will make additions to his budget later this session once his legislative package is approved by the legislature. The governor has traditionally used the so-called supplemental budget to reward legislators who support his agenda.

While this budget is flush with cash, next year's will be a different story, budget officials said. Some projects in 2003 will be delayed a year because of lower revenue projections.

In addition, the state will revise its economic forecast in mid-March. If the economy slows, more cuts will have to be made, budget officials told members of Munson's committee Tuesday.

Sen. Robert R. Neall, R-Anne Arundel, said he remembers the painful cuts that had to be made when the economy soured during the early 1990s.

"The bad news came in waves like nausea," he said.

The legislature will have a tough time making cuts because there aren't any "ringers," or obvious cuts, to be made in the budget, said Senate Budget and Taxation Chairwoman Barbara A. Hoffman, D-Baltimore.

"The governor was able to make a lot of people happy," she said.

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