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Washington Co. lawmakers split on using bond funds

May 12, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Left to right, Delegates LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany; Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington; and Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington; joined other elected officials Wednesday morning at Hager Hall Conference and Event Center in Hagerstown to discuss the recently concluded Maryland General Assembly session.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Members of Washington County's state legislative delegation were split Wednesday on whether to seek bond bills as Maryland's financial woes continue.

Bond bills are legislators' funding requests for projects in their districts. Each year, the state sets aside a pot of money in the budget for those requests.

Six of the county's eight delegation members attended the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's annual post-legislative breakfast Wednesday at Hager Hall Conference and Event Center.

They talked about the 2010 Maryland General Assembly session, particularly cuts made and considered this year and what might lie ahead, when federal stimulus money stops flowing.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said the House Republican Caucus proposed $830 million in budget cuts, eliminating the need for state employee furloughs, but Democrats in control rejected the plan.

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Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, said the state is spending more than it takes in, as revenues decline.

The state will endure more economic difficulties until the economy turns around, said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Some lawmakers said they oppose seeking bond bills as the state struggles to fill a budget gap.

"Being somebody of my convictions," Shank said, "I can't, in good conscience, support that, and I think I have a fiduciary duty to my constituents to not be a part of it."

Serafini agreed.

"We must learn to live within our means," he said. "We must say no to some of these projects that are very good."

But Munson said the state still has a AAA bond rating, the highest.

Saying no to bond bills doesn't mean the money won't be spent, he said. Instead, it will go elsewhere.

"It's taxpayers' money," Munson said. "There's no good reason why some of it shouldn't flow back to worthy projects in Washington County."

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, said he'd support eliminating bond bills while the state gets a grip on its finances, but until the majority in Annapolis agrees - it doesn't now - he'll go after money for his district.

Washington County traditionally gets bond-bill money each year for at least a few projects.

This year, it received $100,000 for Deafnet Association Inc. and $100,000 for the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Munson, and Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who didn't attend Wednesday's breakfast, each secured half.

Munson also obtained $75,000 for the Rural Heritage Transportation Museum.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, and Del. Charles A. Jenkins, R-Frederick/Washington, attended the breakfast. Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, did not attend.

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