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Tough Talk Between Leggett and Miller

There were croissants, eggs and tough talk this morning from Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who used a power breakfast with county leaders to "draw a line in the sand" on state funding for local schools.

Leggett wasn't shy about making his case to the keynote speaker of the annual Committee for Montgomery breakfast, Senate President Mike Miller.

"Just give us the money," Leggett said. "We are not a giant ATM machine for the rest of the state. The ATM is depleted," he said of the county's projected $450 million shortfall for fiscal 2010.

When it was Miller's turn to talk, he warmed up the crowd of about 600 community leaders and elected officials with some risque jokes before delivering the bad news.

Miller said two of the sacred cows of education funding for the county would likely be on the table as the state tries to close it's own budget gap. He said there would probably have to be changes to funding for teacher pensions and to an initiative that provides additional money for school systems like Montgomery, where the cost of educating students is more expensive.

"There are going to have to be some adjustments," Miller said after his formal remarks. "The county that gives big salaries and big benefits is going to have to make some adjustments."

School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, who was among those in the audience, noted that the school system has already made adjustments. Union leaders last week agreed to forgo planned pay raises of 5 percent to help close the budget gap.

"If we're going to meet the needs of this county, we're going to have to hold steady," Weast said.

By Ann Marimow  |  December 8, 2008; 11:12 AM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow  
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County elected officials keep talking about a "deficit," but it is a "deficit" in a budget that is 8% larger than last year. Why do they plan to spend so much more before they know if they have the money coming in? This reminds me of a sale where the price is jacked up just before it is marked down.

County elected officials are going to give us another big property tax increase next year on top of the 14% increase we got this year because they have little or no interest in controlling spending.

Homeowners are tired of being used as ATM's by county elected officials. Nobody is looking out for homeowners. Save Our Homes!

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | December 8, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Save out homes? How about saving our county? Shadow government CASA De Maryland has ensured that a plentiful supply of non-English speaking anchor babies will fill English-as-a-second-language classes. 1 in 8 teenage latino females in Montgomery County is pregnant or has a child and gets costly home education from the county. At the same time, the parents of these anchor babies and the teens themselves pay no taxes but consume massive amounts of taxpayer-funded healthcare and educational services.

Posted by: postisarag | December 8, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Robinfickerofrobinrealty, you must be a fabulous realtor. Do you actually think that overall prices in the world are static, populations never grow, the number of students remains the same, healthcare costs for seniors never rise, and CAPEX needs never change? Especially for a county with nearly 1 million people? I could go on and on about why budgets grow even if there is a deficit, but I didn't think that would be necessary, especially for a realtor--someone who is supposed to know and trusted to know a thing or two about regional and local issues! I'd like to see your take on a house that has changed price in the last year: "Hey, that house was 8% cheaper last year! Why do we have to spend more now? This has never happened before!"

Posted by: crzytwnman | December 8, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Postisarag, your comment deserves nothing in return, but for a "shame on you".

Posted by: crzytwnman | December 8, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"Just give us the money," Leggett said. "We are not a giant ATM machine for the rest of the state. The ATM is depleted,"
Then why is Leggett giving out debit cards for free County services to all illegal immigrants who find their way to Montgomery County, while closing the bank to those who are here legally?

Posted by: amhmd | December 8, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

"School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, who was among those in the audience, noted that the school system has already made adjustments."

? What adjustment? This summer
Superintendent Weast committed the county to a 4 year lease for $19 million in electronic blackboards and attachments.

What about the 1,400 AMEX credit cards in use by MCPS staff? See the full list of card holders and two of the Promethean Board leases here:

Posted by: jzsartucci | December 8, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Ms. Sarticci on this one. There are way too many credit cards out there. Who audits their use? There should be a maximum of one for each of the 200 schools and two or three for the central administration. There is too much temptation to use credit cards for personal use and unnecessary meals when there are so many credit cards being used.

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | December 9, 2008 6:49 AM | Report abuse

There is no audit of the 1,400 Purchase Cards in MCPS.

There is no oversight.

Take a look at a few AMEX card logs on the Parents' Coalition website. Note that many of the purchase card logs obtained via public information requests weren't even approved until AFTER the public information request. In some cases the approval signature is dated almost a year after the purchases were made.
See a few purchase card logs at:

Start at the top with the logs from the Deputy Superintendent of Schools office. There are logs for 5 people in that office.

Also, in reading these logs, please note that meal purchases are PROHIBITED under MCPS policy. But that doesn't stop the charging of meals with AMEX cards. Note how many lunch, dinner and Honey Baked Ham purchases have been made with MCPS AMEX purchase cards.

Posted by: jzsartucci | December 9, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

And here is a local MCPS school that is actually operating like an ATM - giving out loans to staff from fees collected from students. See the report on this school:

Northwest HS May 2008

Posted by: jzsartucci | December 9, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

The county inspector general should look at these charges. Why haven't school board members looked at this?

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | December 9, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Board members all have their own cards. See their names on the card list? Why should they worry about how other staff are using the cards? They wouldn't want anyone to monitor their use.

Posted by: jzsartucci | December 9, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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