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Paying for BRAC

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said yesterday that she would push an amendment allowing any school district affected by the realignment of military bases to receive federal aid before the arrival of students whose parents relocate for the job shifts.

But another Maryland Democrat, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, cautioned later in the day that the state "needs to be in position to shoulder the load."

A Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development study released Friday projected that Maryland would gain more than 45,000 federal and private-sector jobs as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission plan, known as BRAC.

Mikulski (D-Md.) said her amendment might bring the state $25 million more in federal impact aid, which now compensates school systems across the country only for students from military families who enroll.

"This is a national priority," she said.

Mikulski spoke at a news conference with Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold (R), who has asked the state to accelerate key road projects such as the widening of Route 175 near Fort Meade. Anne Arundel would gain 10,049 positions because of BRAC, including 5,717 jobs moving directly to Fort Meade, according to the state report. "BRAC is a great opportunity, but we need the resources," Leopold said.

But Hoyer cautioned yesterday that Maryland should not expect a great deal of help from the federal government. "Most of the communities in America would kill for that sort of economic expansion," Hoyer said at a luncheon with reporters in Bowie.

"After all, we went and argued vigorously that we wanted this expansion," Hoyer added. "We really now can't come down and say, 'Look what you've done to us. We need money.' "

A study paid for by the U.S. Department of Labor projects that BRAC would create a demand for more than 25,000 homes in eight Maryland counties, increasing the burden on crowded schools and roads. Federal, state and county officials are working to develop a regional plan to prioritize projects.

Raymond McCaffrey and Steve Vogel

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 13, 2007; 7:51 AM ET
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