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Pr. Geo's officials praise potential $18 million state aid addition

As the Maryland state budget makes its way toward passage, new language that was inserted by the Senate has Prince George's officials hopeful that the county will see $18 million more in aid this year than originally proposed by the governor.

The Senate budget changed a funding formula for so-called disparity grants. The new language would delay calculation of the grant -- a program designed to give additional funding to counties with lower per capita income -- until Nov. 1. In recent years, calculations of county income were done earlier, before many wealthier residents had filed their tax returns -- a practice Prince George's officials said shortchanged the county by making it look richer than it really is.

County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) recently unveiled his proposed county budget for the coming fiscal year, which included furloughs, widespread department cuts and also fell $15 million short of funding the county school system at state required levels. The budget crunch has left local officials vying for every cent they can get from the state.

The issue has become a top priority for the county delegation in its negotiations with Gov. Martin O'Malley over the budget, and delegates who worked on it praised the Senate change.

Getting the date changed, "was the priority of every member of the government in Prince George's County," and, "allows for us to have additional resources to meet some of the needs for our citizens," said Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George's), chairwoman of the county's House delegation.

"Hey, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye," said Del. Justin D. Ross (D-Prince George's). "$18 million ..... it's a great start and it's a very tough budget year."

John Erzen, a spokesman Johnson, said if the money was approved, "We would look at education, furloughs, and other areas where we have shortfalls in our budget, and we would look to address some of those issues."

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  March 24, 2010; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Maryland State Budget , Prince George's County  
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So is the total pot of disparity grant money the same? Does this mean that other counties are losing $18 million?

Posted by: member8 | March 24, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

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